Food allergies are highly common among both adults and children. While virtually any food can trigger an allergic reaction, certain foods more commonly trigger allergies than others. In fact, according to Food Allergy Research and Education, or FARE, eight foods make up 90% of all food allergies.
What is a Food Allergy?
A food allergy occurs when the immune system mistakenly identifies some of the proteins in food as a threat. In response, the immune system attacks the protein by releasing chemicals such as histamine. This causes inflammation in the body and can lead to various symptoms of an allergic reaction, including trouble breathing, low blood pressure, diarrhea, hives, vomiting, rash, and swelling of the face, tongue, or mouth. Severe food allergies may even cause anaphylaxis.
The Most Common Food Allergies
Cow’s milk contains proteins, whey, and casein. These proteins can trigger an allergic reaction in some people. An allergy to cow’s milk is different from lactose intolerance, which occurs when someone can’t digest the lactose in milk.
Unlike a cow’s milk allergy, children typically don’t grow out of a peanut allergy. This can make peanut allergies more severe than other types of food allergies, and people may be accidentally exposed to peanuts at any age.
People with an egg allergy may be allergic to a specific protein in the egg white, the egg yolk, or both. Depending on which protein they’re allergic to, some people with an egg allergy may be able to safely eat the yolk or the white alone.
Fish allergies are unique in that they may develop in adulthood. Most people with fish allergies must carry an epi-pen to use if they accidentally consume fish, as the allergic reaction can be serious and potentially life-threatening.
Shellfish allergies occur when the immune system reacts to proteins in the mollusk and crustacean families. Most commonly, the tropomyosin protein in shellfish triggers the allergic reaction.
Wheat allergies occur when the immune system has a reaction to one of the proteins in wheat. A wheat allergy is different from celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, which occur when the immune system reacts to the gluten in wheat. These conditions are unlike wheat allergies, which may be severe and life-threatening.
Tree nuts include almonds, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, cashews, pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts, among other nut varieties. Tree nut allergies are very common, and people with the allergy should avoid all tree nuts, even if they’re only allergic to one or two varieties.
Soy allergies are most often found in infants and children younger than three. Most children with a soy allergy outgrow it, but it’s important to avoid all soy products with an allergy.
At Kratz Allergy & Asthma, we offer allergy testing and treatment to identify food allergies and help you manage them. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.