Here’s an interesting factoid, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Approximately 3 to 4 percent of American adults are affected by food allergies and, unlike many affected children who outgrow their food allergies, adult food allergies tend to be lifelong.
A food allergy occurs when your body’s immune system identifies a certain form of nourishment as harmful and reacts by causing an unpleasant or dangerous symptom. That might include:
· Swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat
· Vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal cramps and pain
· Hives or itchy rashes
· Tightening of the throat, difficult breathy, coughing or wheezing
· Sneezing, hoarseness, or nasal congestion
· A drop in blood pressure, a weak pulse, or fainting
Even worse, a food allergy could trigger a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylactic shock, which has the potential to be life-threatening. It requires immediate medical treatment, including an injection of epinephrine.
Although any food can cause an allergic reaction, there are eight that account for 90 percent of all serious reactions: Eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts (such as almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, etc.), and wheat.
Of those, food allergies in adults tend to focus on:
· Fruits and vegetables
· Tree nuts
The most common, fruits and vegetables, frequently causes a type of allergy condition called Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) or Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome (PFAS). This allergic reaction happens because the proteins in some fruits and vegetables are similar to those in pollen. Most of the time, however, symptoms – such as itching, tingling, redness, blisters, and swelling of the mouth or throat – only arise when raw, uncooked food is eaten.
It should be noted that there is a difference between a food allergy and food intolerance. Food intolerance symptoms tend to be less severe and are often merely limited to digestive problems.
The best way to know for sure if you have a food allergy or any other adverse reaction to food is by consulting your doctor or a board-certified allergist. You will be tested and, if a specific allergy is confirmed, you can receive treatment as recommended by your physician. This may include prescribed medication that you should keep close at hand in the event of unintended exposure to your allergen.
It’s also important to read food labels when shopping since they include information about any additives or byproducts that might be hazardous to your health. Another good idea is to wear a medical ID bracelet that lists information about your food allergy. And, if your doctor prescribes medication such as an EpiPen (used to inject epinephrine) or an antihistamine, be sure to carry it with you when you leave home just in case there’s an emergency.
If you are in need of urgent care, come see us at Patient Care Now Urgent Care in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania. We are open seven days a week, from 8 am 8 pm. Owned and operated by board-certified emergency medicine providers, we pride ourselves in providing a seamless experience to our patients. Call us at (267) 202-6433 for all your urgent care needs, or use our online check-in form.