Millions of people have allergies that come and go with the season and are usually blamed on pollen, grass and a host of other environmental factors. These allergies are easy to spot because they produce symptoms such as sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes that are rather obvious. However, what if you or a loved one had a food allergy? Would you necessarily know what symptoms or signs to look for?
It is interesting to note that some of the symptoms of a food allergy can also be reproduced via other means. Therefore it is important to be attuned to your body and recognize sudden or gradual (a few hours) onset of symptoms and their possible ties to food. Here are some of those symptoms and signs you should watch for that may signal an allergic reaction to food:
1. Tingling, Swelling and Redness
Certain foods trigger an allergic reaction almost immediately while others creep up slowly. Allergies are a primary cause of swelling and redness and you can find this occurrence on the face as well as around the mouth areas. Tingling could also occur anywhere where the food culprit came in contact with skin. Egg products and shellfish like crab and shrimp can cause these symptoms.
2. Hives and Rashes
It is important to note that hives and rashes are not only caused by allergic reactions to food. Medications and environmental concerns can also cause them. Everyone knows what rashes are; hives are like a raised version of a rash and could appear bumpy and sometimes will itch. Therefore, it is important to clue into what you were doing in the time leading up to the appearance of hives or rashes to try and discern the cause, whether it is food or something else.
3. Stomach Upset
Dairy is the biggest contributor to constipation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in food allergy sufferers. Of course, in some cases, it is actually food intolerance rather than an actual allergy. Only a doctor and proper testing can definitively tell for sure. Many people are gluten or lactose intolerance and similar symptoms can occur.
4. Runny or Drippy Nose
Sometimes called hay fever or allergic rhinitis, these symptoms are often attributed to environmental factors like high pollen or mold counts in the air. However, certain food allergies like those to eggs or dairy can produce the same symptoms. Only with allergy testing, such as the scratch tests, can the primary cause of the symptoms be known. Of course, if it is the dead of winter when pollen and mold counts are low and you have the symptoms, chances are good in pinpointing a food allergy! 5. Anaphylactic Shock
This is the most serious symptom of food allergies and can be fatal if not treated immediately. Luckily, anaphylaxis is not common but those with the severest of allergies can get it. The entire body reacts to a food allergen and its response is a drop in blood pressure and swelling of the respiratory passageways which causes difficulty in breathing. People with severe food allergies often have to carry epinephrine in an injectible form like the EpiPen with them everywhere in case of emergency.