Of the millions of people who suffer from some type of allergy, a small percentage are allergic to one or more types of food. According to the American College of Asthma, Allergies, and Immunotherapy, around 4 percent of adults and up to 6 percent of children are allergic to a food. Food allergies are more common in children and infants, but they can develop in people of any age. Even after years of eating a certain food, a person can become allergic to it.
The symptoms a person with a food allergy experiences often depend on the type of allergy they have and the severity. While people with food allergies don’t always experience sinus or nasal issues, it’s not unheard of for congestion and other nasal problems to occur as a reaction. Read on to learn more about food allergies, including common causes and symptoms.
What Causes Food Allergies?
Some foods are more likely to trigger an allergic reaction than others. Eight types of foods are usually responsible for triggering the majority of allergic reactions. Those foods include peanuts, tree nuts, milk, soy, fish, shellfish, wheat, and eggs.
The cause of food allergies often differs between adults and kids. For example, adults are more likely to have an allergy to shellfish, fish, nuts or peanuts. Children are more likely to be allergic to peanuts, nuts, milk, eggs, wheat or soy.
In addition to the big eight food allergens, some people have what’s known are oral allergy syndrome or pollen-food allergy syndrome. People who are allergic to certain types of pollens might experience a reaction when they eat some types of raw fruits or vegetables. For example, people with a birch pollen allergy often have a reaction when they eat hazelnuts or cherries.
Oral allergy syndrome occurs because the proteins in some types of fruits and vegetables can trigger the same sort of allergic reaction as certain types of pollen.
Another cause of food allergies is something known as an exercise-induced food allergy. Some people start to show symptoms of an allergic reaction if they exercise within a few hours of eating a specific food.
Common Symptoms of Food Allergies
Food allergies can cause symptoms all over the body. Some people have a gastrointestinal response when they eat an allergen. They might vomit or have stomach pains. Others have a reaction on the skin and develop hives or another type of rash. Respiratory reactions, such as an asthma attack, are also common.
Anaphylaxis is usually the most severe type of response to a food allergen. During the kind of reaction, a person’s blood pressure can drop rapidly, their throat can close up and they might become faint or lose consciousness. Anaphylaxis needs to be treated right away.
People with oral allergy syndrome often experience a very distinct type of symptom. They usually have itching in the mouth or throat after eating a food that has a cross-reaction with the type of pollen they are allergic to. Some people also experience swelling in the mouth and lips. Usually, the symptoms fade when a person swallows or stops eating the food causing the reaction.
Food Allergies and Your Sinuses
Although people don’t often associate food allergies with sinus issues, it is possible to have symptoms such as congestion and inflammation as a result of a food allergy. Usually, if sinus symptoms are connected to a food allergen, they will develop quickly after the food is ingested.
Treating Food Allergies
Treating food allergies is slightly different from other forms of allergy treatment. The best thing people with a food allergy can do is avoid eating the food that triggers an immune response. Since there’s a risk that the reaction a person has to an allergen will be severe and life-threatening, it is particularly important for some people to steer clear of their known allergens.
If you do ingest a food you’re allergic to, how you respond depends on the severity of the symptoms. If you have a mild reaction, such as some congestion or itching, an antihistamine might be sufficient.
More severe reactions, including anaphylaxis, typically require emergency treatment. You might need to go to the ER or to use an epinephrine auto-injector.
Allergy shots and immunotherapy aren’t typically used to treat food allergies, although there has been research conducted on using exposure to a food allergen to help reduce people’s reaction to it. If you have specific questions about your food allergies, it is best to speak with a medical professional.
ABOUT DR. RUBINSTEIN
Dr. Rubinstein has nearly sixteen years of experience in helping patients with sinus problems and allergies in the Hudson Valley. A double board-certified facial plastic surgeon and otolaryngologist, he has extensive knowledge of laser procedures, facial plastic surgery, and nasal and sinus treatments. If you’re interested in learning more about food allergies and allergy treatments, schedule an appointment with Dr. Rubinstein at the Hudson Valley Sinus Center by calling 845-562-6673.