About 32 million people have food allergies in America. Milk is the most common allergen for children, while shellfish is the most common allergen for adults. Other common food allergies include peanuts, eggs, treat nuts, wheat, and soy. Regardless of the food you’re allergic to, food allergies can be scary.
At Regional Allergy Asthma & Immunology Center, our team is dedicated to helping adults and children identify and manage all types of allergies, including food allergies.
Below, we share the common symptoms of food allergies and three dangers of leaving those allergies untreated.
Signs of food allergies
Sneezing and itchy, watery eyes are common allergy symptoms, but they aren’t the only ones. In fact, food allergies can cause many different symptoms, including:
- Stomach pain
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Watery eyes
- Decrease in blood pressure
- Throat tightness
- Swelling of lips, tongue, or mouthy
Food allergies can cause life-threatening anaphylactic reactions. Signs of an anaphylactic reaction include shock, rapid heart rate, swollen mouth and throat, difficulty breathing, severe and sudden drop in blood pressure, and dizziness. If you spot these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Note that food allergies can develop at any point in a person’s life, no matter how young or old.
3 dangers of unmanaged food allergies
Even if you don’t have severe food allergies, there are still consequences of leaving food allergies unmanaged. A few dangers of unmanaged food allergies include:
1. Unpredictable reactions
Just because you had a mild reaction after eating peanuts doesn’t mean that it will be mild every time. It’s possible to have a mild reaction, then a moderate one, then a severe one. Getting tested (and treated) can keep you prepared in case you experience a severe reaction.
2. Increased risk of serious reactions
If you suspect you have food allergies but don’t undergo testing, it’s possible that you avoid some of your triggers but not all of them. That can increase your risk of having a severe allergic reaction. Allergy testing confirms all of your potential triggers, so you know which foods to avoid.
3. Reduced quality of life
Not managing your food allergies can increase your stress and impact your quality of life. You might avoid eating out at restaurants for fear of contamination, and you may opt out of dinners at friends’ houses. Receiving treatment can help restore your peace of mind.
Managing your food allergies
The good news is that there are many things you can do to manage your food allergies. First, your provider here at Regional Allergy Asthma & Immunology Center recommends allergy testing (either skin allergy test or blood tests) as well as food elimination diets and open food challenges.
Once your specific food allergies are determined, you may receive:
- Medication such as antihistamines to manage mild allergies
- An epinephrine auto-injector 一 also known as an Epi Pen 一 in the case of an accidental analytic allergic reaction
- Guidance on which foods to avoid
It can be scary to think that you or your child have food allergies, but it’s better to confront a potential allergy head-on. We can confirm your allergies and help you stay prepared in the event of an accidental exposure. We’re located in Kingsport and Johnson City, Tennessee, and Abingdon, Virginia. Call the location of your choice or simply request an appointment online.