Food allergies affect approximately 32 million people in the United States, including 5.6 million children. In fact, the CDC reports that food allergies among kids increased by 50% between 1997 and 2011 alone, and 40% of kids with food allergies have had severe allergic reactions.
Driving this point home even further, medical treatment for anaphylaxis jumped a whopping 380% between 2007 and 2016, which underscores the importance of being able to recognize the potentially dangerous signs of a food allergy.
At Allergy Asthma & Immunology, Dr. Laura Ispas and our team help both children and adults navigate the tricky world of food allergies. As allergy specialists, we stay abreast of the latest treatment protocols and research, and we also believe in partnering with our patients in Leesburg, Virginia, to promote better awareness.
To that end, we’ve pulled together the following important information about spotting the more common signs of a food allergy.
Who is at risk for food allergies?
While food allergies have a tendency to present themselves in younger children, affecting 1 in 13 kids, adults are far from risk-free. In fact, 45% of adults with a food allergy first experienced symptoms in adulthood.
The bottom line is that food allergies are a concern at any age, and knowing the signs can help you avoid potentially dangerous reactions.
The big 8
One of the most helpful clues when it comes to determining whether you have a food allergy is what triggers your reaction. Up to 90% of all reactions stem from these eight foods:
- Tree nuts
While any food can potentially cause an allergic reaction if your immune system deems it dangerous, these account for the vast majority of cases.
The biggest warning flags
Allergic reactions can be very different from one person to the next, depending on how your immune system reacts. Food allergies are no different, and a reaction can affect a number of different systems within your body. In the following, we list the area of impact and how the reaction often presents itself:
If your gastrointestinal tract is involved in your allergic reaction, you may feel stomach cramps and experience nausea and vomiting.
Reactions that involve your respiratory tract are quite dangerous as they include:
- A swelling tongue
- Difficulty breathing
- Tight throat and difficulty swallowing
In extreme cases, anaphylactic shock can occur, which impairs your ability to breathe, and your body goes into shock.
The most common skin reactions include rashes and hives.
Your pulse may slow down during an extreme allergic reaction, causing your skin to turn pale or blue.
And these reactions are not an either-or proposition, as some people experience symptoms in more than one of these areas (stomach cramps and hives, for example).
If you suspect that you or your child may have a food allergy, your best course of action is to come see us so that we can identify the culprit and put a plan in place to help you better manage your food allergy. To get started, simply give us a call at 571-249-1415, or you can use our online scheduling tool to request a consultation.