It’s one thing to have a sensitivity to a certain food that causes digestive upset. But it’s far more serious when you have an allergic reaction.
Unlike food sensitivities, an allergy triggers a systemic response. Why? Because your immune system mistakes something harmless for something dangerous. This can lead to potentially severe reactions that can get worse with each exposure, especially when they involve food.
Common signs of food allergies include:
- Itching or tingling mouth
- Swelling of the tongue, lips, face, or throat
- Trouble breathing
- Wheezing or nasal congestion
- Itching skin, hives, or eczema
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Fainting or loss of consciousness
The first step in safely managing a food allergy involves an accurate diagnosis. Our skilled Advanced Allergy & Asthma team in Ogden, Utah, can help you confirm a suspected allergy and offer guidance on your next steps moving forward.
Diagnosing food allergies
Many people think they have a food allergy, but they really have a sensitivity to something instead. In reality, food allergies affect approximately 8% of children under 5 and around 4% of adults.
Confirming the presence of a food allergy often involves several factors, such as:
- A family history of allergies
- Physical exam
- Skin testing
- Immunoglobulin E (IgE), or blood testing
- Elimination diet
- Oral food challenge
Based on your assessment, we can determine if a specific food is behind your symptoms and outline the best management strategy to avoid complications.
Living with food allergies
There may be countless food items in the world, but 90% of allergic reactions typically involve nine specific items in the United States, including:
- Peanuts and tree nuts
- Fish and crustacean shellfish
Understanding what food triggers your symptoms plays an essential role in your management strategy because you have to avoid it moving forward.
That’s right. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for food allergies, so you must avoid the item triggering your symptoms. However, that can be easier said than done.
Navigating meals with a food allergy
A significant challenge of food allergies is that many of the most common triggers exist in items you’d never suspect. For instance, did you know that chocolate often contains milk, and ice cream contains eggs?
When you have a food allergy, it’s vital to learn how to read food labels. You also have to understand which ingredients to avoid because even trace amounts of your trigger can cause a reaction.
In addition to avoiding your allergens, it’s also crucial to know the signs of an allergic reaction so you can treat them as quickly as possible.
Our team can provide instructions on how you should handle an allergic reaction based on your diagnosis. For example, mild allergic reactions often respond well to prescription antihistamines. However, severe reactions can require emergency epinephrine injections and a visit to the emergency room.
Preparing for emergencies
If you have severe food allergies, our team recommends carrying an emergency epinephrine autoinjector — you may know them by their more common names, EpiPen®
and Adrenaclick®. These devices deliver a single dose of medication directly to your system when you press it against your thigh.
Learning you have a food allergy can seem overwhelming, but with our help, you’ll have the tools you need to navigate the days to come.
Could you have a food allergy? Don’t wait to find out. Contact Advanced Allergy & Asthma to schedule an evaluation today.