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What are the Most Common Food Allergies?

What are the Most Common Food Allergies?

Food allergies are a growing concern among people around the world. A food allergy happens when your immune system reacts unusually to specific types of food, causing symptoms that can range from mild reactions to severe anaphylaxis. Some of the most common food allergies are milk and dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, soy, and sesame. In this blog, we explore each of these common food allergies in detail, including their causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

Milk Allergy

Milk allergy is one of the most common food allergies, especially in children. This allergy occurs when your body overreacts to proteins found in milk, such as casein and whey. Common symptoms of milk allergy include hives, vomiting, and anaphylaxis in severe cases. To avoid milk and dairy products, you may need to read food labels carefully and look for non-dairy alternatives.

Peanut Allergy

Peanut allergy is another common type of food allergy that can cause severe reactions. Peanuts are a legume and are not related to tree nuts, such as almonds or cashews. However, if you are allergic to peanuts, you may also be allergic to other legumes. Symptoms of a peanut allergy can range from mild rashes to anaphylaxis. In case of an allergy emergency, always carry an epinephrine autoinjector with you.

Tree Nut Allergy

Tree nuts such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pecans are other common food allergens. This allergy typically develops early in life and can last a lifetime. Symptoms can range from mild to severe reactions, including anaphylaxis. Avoiding tree nuts can be challenging because they are often used in many different types of foods, such as candies, baked goods, and sauces.

Fish Allergy

Fish allergy can be challenging to diagnose and manage. This allergy can be triggered by any type of fish, such as salmon, tuna, and cod. Symptoms of a fish allergy can range from mild skin irritation to anaphylaxis. Fish protein can also be present in some supplement capsules and pet foods, so it is essential to read the labels of products you consume.

Shellfish Allergy

Shellfish are divided into two categories: crustaceans, which include shrimp, crab, and lobster, and mollusks, which include clams, mussels, and oysters. Shellfish allergy is a common food allergy that can cause severe reactions. Symptoms can include itching, swelling, and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, anaphylaxis can occur and immediate medical attention is necessary.

Wheat Allergy

Wheat allergy is an uncommon type of food allergy but can cause severe reactions in some people. Common symptoms of wheat allergy include hives, swelling, and anaphylaxis. The ingredient gluten, found in wheat-based products, has been linked to digestive disorders such as celiac disease but is not considered an allergen.

Soy Allergy

Soy allergy is a common food allergy that can cause symptoms ranging from mild to severe reactions, including anaphylaxis. Soy is often used as an ingredient in many food products, such as tofu, soy milk, and edamame. Avoiding soy-based products can be challenging, but it is essential for people with a soy allergy.

Sesame Allergy

Sesame allergy is becoming more common and is now the ninth most common food allergy. Sesame products, such as sesame oil, sesame seeds, and tahini, are used as ingredients in many foods, including bread, crackers, and sauces. Symptoms of sesame allergy can include hives, swelling, and anaphylaxis.

Diagnosing a Food Allergy

Food allergies can be challenging to diagnose, and there is no single test to confirm an allergy. Instead, dermatologists rely on a combination of medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests to diagnose a food allergy.

During a medical history interview, your dermatologist will ask about your symptoms, when they first appeared, and how often they occur. They may also ask if you have a family history of food allergies, if you have recently changed your diet, or if you have any underlying medical conditions.

A physical examination may include a skin prick test or a blood test to look for antibodies to specific food allergens. Skin prick testing involves pricking the skin with a small amount of food allergen and observing the skin’s reaction. A positive reaction, such as a raised bump or redness, indicates an allergy. Blood tests measure the levels of specific antibodies in the blood, which can help identify the cause of the reaction.

In some cases, your dermatologist may recommend a food challenge test, in which you will eat a small amount of the suspected allergen under close medical supervision. This test can confirm or rule out a food allergy but should only be done in a medical setting because of the risk of anaphylaxis.

It is essential to work closely with your dermatologist to identify and manage your food allergy. This may involve an elimination diet, in which you remove the suspected allergen from your diet for a set period, and then slowly reintroduce it while monitoring for symptoms. Your dermatologist may also prescribe medications, such as antihistamines or epinephrine autoinjectors, to manage allergic reactions.

If you suspect you have a food allergy, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with us. With the right tools and resources, managing a food allergy can be more comfortable, and you can live a healthy and happy life.

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