Food allergies can be rather unpredictable. One year everything will be fine, and then suddenly, when you eat the wrong food, you break out in a severe allergic reaction. Even if you are eating healthy, you can end up suffering serious consequences, like going to the emergency room. The common types of allergies adults and children experience differ. For adults, the most common food allergies are:
- Shellfish (2%)
- Peanut (.6%)
- Tree nuts (.5%)
- Fish (.4%)
- Sesame (.1%)
- Fruits and vegetables (.1% – 4.3%)
For children, the most common food allergies are:
- Milk (2.5%)
- Egg (2.5%)
- Soy (.3%)
- Peanut (.6%)
- Tree nut (.5%)
As you can see, there is some overlap between adults and children.
When are food allergies most likely to occur?
Food allergies occur through specific proteins that don’t break down through heat, stomach acid, or digestive enzymes. While there’s no way to predict at what time they’ll happen, they typically appear in the first or second year of life.
There are a few things that will make you more susceptible. If someone in your family has a particular food allergy, you may eventually develop that allergy as well, although it’s hard to say where or when. You also have to be previously exposed to the food in order to develop an allergy for it.
To further confuse the issue, some allergies can be a one-time occurrence or last during a phase of your life such as during the teenage years, only to disappear later on.
How do you know if you are suffering from a food allergy?
Usually, it’s fairly obvious. You break out in hives a couple hours after eating shrimp salad. But, other times, it’s not nearly as obvious. Lactose intolerance, which can begin up to 12 hours after consumption of milk, can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, gas, nausea, slow growth, and weight loss. Celiac disease results as an allergic reaction to gluten, a protein found in many grains. It causes many difficulties long-term including malnutrition, infertility, and even cancer.
The chances you end up suffering from more intense symptoms, such as anaphylaxis shock, are pretty low, and in the vast majority of cases, the symptoms are minor. If you feel any of these symptoms after eating a particular food, you may have developed an allergy:
- Mouth tingles or itches
- Lips, face, tongue or throat swelling
- Wheezing or trouble breathing
- Nausea or diarrhea
How Do You Cope with a Food Allergy?
You can go to a doctor and have tests performed in order to determine which food caused your allergy, but in most cases, it’s pretty clear what caused the problem. Although food allergies can be a one-time thing or even last during a brief period in your life, you can typically assume you will remain allergic to a certain food for the rest of your life.
Once you know what caused the allergy, coping with the allergy is straightforward, but not easy. Simply put, avoid that food. The challenge stems from the possibility you may now have to avoid some of your favorite foods and places to eat. But, with patience, determination, and a little help, you will be able to make the necessary lifestyle adjustments.
About the Author: Erin Leigh is a writer for Medical ID Bracelet Marketplace, a Hope Paige designs company that sells stylish medical alert jewelry for kids and adults suffering with food and medication allergies, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and more.