Food Allergies

In 2004, the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act was passed to establish the top eight common food allergies among Americans: milk, eggs, peanuts/tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy. This act reported that almost 90% of allergies occur from one of the eight listed foods. 

Milk

According to the U.S Food and Drug Administration, cow’s milk allergy is most common among young children and babies. Within their first year of living, children have the chance of developing this allergy. But over time, a child can outgrow this allergy. 

When consumed, the immune system reverts to an abnormal response that can then trigger mild to severe reactions. Reactions from a milk allergy can be vomiting, upset stomach, hives, and even wheezing. On the severe end, an individual can trigger anaphylaxis if allergic to cow’s milk. 

Peanuts and Tree Nuts

Life-threatening reactions can occur to an individual with a nut allergy. Out of the eight food allergies, nut allergies most likely can trigger a severe reaction. Direct contact from consumption is a common way to ignite a nut allergy but for some individuals, inhalation, for example, of peanut flour can cause an allergic reaction as well. 

Within seconds of exposure, symptoms like hives, itching of the throat and mouth, runny nose, eye swelling, and digestive difficulties can occur. But out of all allergies, a nut allergy is the most common trigger of anaphylaxis. Many turn to the use of an epinephrine autoinjector or an EpiPen to stop the reaction. After the injection of the pin, it is highly suggested the one makes a trip to the emergency room. 

Eggs

An individual can develop an egg allergy during their childhood years. Over time, like most food allergies, this individual can become immune to the allergy. According to the Mayo Clinic, this allergy is triggered when the immune system mistaken eggs proteins for harmful intruders to the body. 

Once recognized, the immune system builds a catalyst that blocks the protein and offsets allergic symptoms. Signs of an allergic reaction to eggs include hives, digestive discomfort, coughing, chest complications, and shortness of breath. For the ones who may be on the severe end of the allergy, an epinephrine injection may be used to stop the reaction.  

A high majority of foods contain eggs. It is imperative that those who may be allergic take time to carefully read the ingredients list in their foods. Even foods like marshmallows, pasta, mayonnaise, bread, baked goods, and pudding all contain eggs and risk the chances of a flare-up. 

Wheat

An individual who suffers from a wheat allergy may be able to consume other grain, but there is still chances of ingesting wheat if not careful. Many who are allergic to wheat run the chances of being allergic to oats, barley, and rye. 

The easiest solution is to avoid wheat at all costs, but most common foods contain this product: meats, soy sauce, cereals, bread/baked goods, pasta, and this list can go on and on. It is imperative to pay attention to the ingredients list to avoid any reactions associated with this allergy. 

Within minutes, an individual can show signs of allergic reaction to wheat. These signs and symptoms include cramps, swelling of the mouth, itching of the throat, headache, and even a stuffy nose. Prescribed medication and even a strict gluten-free diet are a couple of precautions that people take to keep their wheat allergy under control.   

Fish

An individual is most likely to discover a fish allergy during their adult years. When exposed to fish, the body’s immune system builds defensive antibodies that then trigger the allergic reaction. Because there is a multitude of finned fish, it is suggested that one pinpoint the exact fish(es) he or she may be allergic to and then proceed with caution. 

Reading labels and pinpointing the exact fish are two of the safest ways to manage a fish allergy. Foods like Caesar salad dressing, Worcestershire sauce, and imitation crab meat all contain some type of fish, therefore, triggering an allergic flare-up. 

Mild symptoms associated with this allergy include headache, stuffy or runny nose, diarrhea, and skin rash. On the high end of the spectrum a fish allergy, just like many other food allergies, can cause the body to go into shock.  

Soy

A soy allergy is most common in young children. By their adolescent years, these children have the chances of outgrowing a soy allergy, but there is still a percentage who carry the allergy into their adult years. 

Soybeans are mainly founded in international condiments and dishes when compared to American cuisine. Therefore, it is imperative for someone who’s allergic to diligently read the ingredients list for any soy products. Tofu, edamame, miso, and soy sauce are common foods that contain soy. 

A person who experiences hives, mouth itching, or redness of the skin may be showing symptoms of an allergic reaction to soy. Out of the eight list food items, a soy allergy rarely triggers any life-threatening symptoms like fainting, memory loss, or a significant drop in blood pressure. 

Shellfish

There are chances that an individual can obtain a shellfish allergy and not a fish allergy. When it comes to being allergic to shellfish, the body has an abnormal response causing the immune system to defend and reject the shellfish proteins. Shellfish like crab, shrimp, lobster, oysters, and scallops are only some of the foods that cause this allergy. To minimize the chances of a reaction individuals, avoid seafood restaurants where chances of cross-contamination can occur.  

Symptoms associated with this allergy include dizziness, eczema, wheezing, body aches, and even swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat. Out of these symptoms, body swelling is an indicator of a severe reaction and medical attention must happen immediately. 

Written by: Domonique Whitehurst

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