Of the 50 million people in the United States who have allergies, 32 million have food allergies, making it the most common type of allergy. While these numbers are already large, the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team reports that food allergies are rising in the US — the number of people with food allergies has doubled in each of the last decades.
Given the increasing numbers, the team here at Advanced ENT & Allergy, including Dr. Timothy Queen, Nancy Gibson, FNP-BC, and Kristi Pham, MSN, FNP-BC, thought it would be helpful to review a few of the more common signs of a food allergy.
Food allergy fast facts
While people can have a food allergy to any type of food, most sufferers have an allergy to the following nine foods:
- Tree nuts
When it comes to who develops food allergies, it’s interesting to note that up to two-thirds of children with food allergies don’t share the allergy with their parents. As a result, researchers believe that environment plays a prominent role.
Signs of a food allergy
To help you identify a food allergy, here are the six most common signs of a problem, which we’ve listed in order of severity:
- Itchy or runny nose, as well as sneezing
- Itching or tingling in the mouth
- Hives and redness in the skin, which can be localized or widespread
- Stomach upset, including pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Swelling in the mouth, face, lips, and throat
- Trouble breathing
Severe symptoms, such as swelling and difficulty breathing, may signify anaphylaxis, which is an extreme reaction to an allergen that can be life-threatening. With anaphylaxis, the airways can constrict, making it difficult to breathe or swallow. Your heart rate and blood pressure can also drop to dangerous levels.
We want to note that just because you or your child have had only mild reactions to a specific food doesn’t mean you won’t have a severe one down the road. Allergic reactions are difficult to predict.
Identifying and treating food allergies
If any of the signs above sound familiar, it’s important that you bring your child or yourself in for allergy testing. Through skin, patch, or blood tests, we can determine how your body reacts to certain substances and whether they qualify as allergens.
If we do identify a food allergy, we work quickly to help you manage the condition, which typically entails having an EpiPen® on hand and formulating a trigger management plan to help you avoid allergic reactions altogether.
If you have more questions about food allergies or you or your child needs to be tested, contact our office in Newport News, Virginia, to set up an appointment.