Food allergies are very common. In fact, they affect around 5% of adults and 8% of children — and these percentages are increasing. Surprisingly, although it’s possible for any food to cause an allergy, the majority of food allergies are caused by just eight foods. This post is a comprehensive review of the 8 most common food allergies. It discusses their symptoms, who is at threat and what you can do about it.
What Is a Food Allergy?
A food allergy is a condition in which certain foods set off an irregular immune action.
It’s brought on by your immune system incorrectly recognizing some of the proteins in a food as harmful. Your body then releases a series of protective steps, including releasing chemicals like histamine, which triggers swelling.
For people who have a food allergy, even exposure to really percentages of the problem food can cause an allergic reaction.
Symptoms can take place anywhere from a couple of minutes after exposure to a couple of hours later on, and they might include a few of the following:
- Swelling of the tongue, mouth or face
- Difficulty breathing
- Low blood pressure
- Throwing up
- Itchy rash
In more extreme cases, a food allergy can cause anaphylaxis. Signs, which can come on really rapidly, include an itchy rash, swelling of the throat or tongue, shortness of breath and low blood pressure. Some cases can be fatal.
Lots of food intolerances are often incorrect for food allergies.
Nevertheless, food intolerances never ever include the immune system. This indicates that while they can badly affect your lifestyle, they are not life threatening.
True food allergies can be divided into two main types: IgE antibody or non-IgE antibody. Antibodies are a kind of blood protein utilized by your immune system to recognize and combat infection.
In an IgE food allergy, the IgE antibody is launched by your immune system. In a non-IgE food allergy, IgE antibodies aren’t launched, and other parts of the immune system are utilized to eliminate the perceived threat.
Here are the eight most common food allergies.
1. Cow’s Milk
An allergy to cow’s milk is frequently seen in babies and children, specifically when they have been exposed to cow’s milk protein before they are six months old.
It is among the most common childhood allergies, affecting 2– 3% of babies and young children.
However, around 90% of children will outgrow the condition by the time they’re 3, making it much less common in grownups.
A cow’s milk allergy can take place in both IgE and non-IgE types, however IgE cow milk allergies are the most common and possibly the most major.
Children or adults with an IgE allergy tend to have a reaction within 5 — 30 minutes of consuming cow’s milk. They experience symptoms like swelling, rashes, hives, vomiting and, in uncommon cases, anaphylaxis.
A non-IgE allergy usually has more gut-based signs like vomiting, irregularity or diarrhea, as well as inflammation of the gut wall.
A non-IgE milk allergy can be quite hard to detect. This is because sometimes the symptoms can suggest an intolerance and there is no blood test for it.
If a medical diagnosis of a cow’s milk allergy is made, the only treatment is to avoid cow’s milk and foods that contain it. This includes any foods or beverages which contain:
- Milk powder
- Ice cream
Breastfeeding moms of babies with an allergy might likewise have to get rid of cow’s milk and foods which contain it from their own diets.
When it comes to babies who aren’t breastfeeding, an ideal option to a cow’s milk-based formula will be suggested by a health expert.
An egg allergy is the second most common cause of food allergy in children.
However, 68% of children who are allergic to eggs will outgrow their allergy by the time they’re 16.
- Digestion distress, such as a stomach ache
- Skin reactions, such as hives or a rash
- Respiratory problems
- Anaphylaxis (which is rare).
Interestingly, it’s possible to be allergic to egg whites, but not the yolks, and vice versa. This is since the proteins in egg whites and egg yolks differ a little.
Yet most of the proteins that trigger an allergy are found in egg whites, so an egg white allergy is more common.
Like other allergies, the treatment for an egg allergy is an egg-free diet.
Nevertheless, you may not need to prevent all egg-related foods, as heating eggs can alter the shape of the allergy-causing proteins. This can stop your body from seeing them as harmful, implying they’re less most likely to trigger a reaction.
In fact, one research study found that around 70% of children with an egg allergy could tolerate consuming biscuits or cakes consisting of a cooked egg element.
Some studies have also revealed that introducing baked items to children with an egg allergy can shorten the time it considers them to outgrow the condition.
Nonetheless, this isn’t the case for everybody, and the effects of consuming eggs when you are allergic to them can be severe. Because of this, you need to check with your doctor prior to you reestablish any egg-containing foods.
3. Tree Nuts
A tree nut allergy is an allergy to a few of the nuts and seeds that originate from trees.
It’s a really common food allergy that’s thought to affect around 1% of the United States population.
Some examples of tree nuts include:
- Brazil nuts.
- Macadamia nuts.
- Pine nuts.
People with a tree nut allergy will also be allergic to food products made with these nuts, such as nut butters and oils.
They are recommended to prevent all types of tree nuts, even if they are only allergic to a couple of types.
This is due to the fact that being allergic to one type of tree nut increases your threat of establishing an allergy to other types of tree nuts.
Furthermore, it’s much easier to prevent all nuts, rather than simply one or two types. And unlike some other allergies, an allergy to tree nuts is typically a lifelong condition.
Allergies can likewise be very severe, and tree nut allergies are responsible for around 50% of anaphylaxis-related deaths.
Because of this, people with nut allergies (as well other potentially life-threatening allergies) are advised to bring an epi-pen with them at all times.
An epi-pen is a potentially life-saving gadget that allows those with allergies to inject themselves with a shot of adrenaline if they start to have a severe allergic reaction.
Adrenaline is a naturally taking place hormone that stimulates the body’s “fight or flight” action when you are stressed.
When offered as an injection to individuals having an extreme allergic reaction, it can reverse the effects of the allergy and conserve the individual’s life.
Like a tree nut allergy, peanut allergies are very common and can cause serious and possibly fatal allergic reactions.
However, the two conditions are considered unique, as a peanut is a vegetable. Nonetheless, those with peanut allergies are often likewise allergic to tree nuts.
While the reason individuals establish a peanut allergy isn’t understood, it is thought that individuals with a family history of peanut allergies are most at risk.
Because of this, it was previously thought that introducing peanuts through a breastfeeding mom’s diet or throughout weaning may activate a peanut allergy.
Nevertheless, research studies have actually because revealed that presenting peanuts early may be protective.
Peanut allergies impact around 4 — 8% of children and 1 — 2% of adults.
However, around 15 — 22% of children who establish a peanut allergy will find it resolves as they move into their teenage years.
Like other allergies, a peanut allergy is identified using a combination of patient history, skin prick screening, blood tests and food difficulties.
At the moment, the just effective treatment is total avoidance of peanuts and peanut-containing products.
Nevertheless, new treatments are being developed for children with peanut allergies. These include giving exact and small amounts of peanuts under stringent medical supervision in an attempt to desensitize them to the allergy.
A shellfish allergy is triggered by your body assaulting proteins from the shellfish and mollusk households of fish, which are called shellfish.
Examples of shellfish include:
The most common trigger of a seafood allergy is a protein called tropomyosin. Other proteins that might play a role in triggering an immune action are arginine kinase and myosin light chain.
Signs of a shellfish allergy generally come on rapidly and resemble other IgE food allergies.
However, a real seafood allergy can often be tough to differentiate from an adverse reaction to a contaminant of seafood, such as germs, infections or parasites.
This is because the signs can be comparable, as both can trigger digestive problems like vomiting, diarrhea and stomach discomfort.
A shellfish allergy doesn’t tend to deal with time, so the majority of people with the condition must exclude all shellfish from their diet to avoid having an allergic reaction.
Interestingly, even the vapors from cooking shellfish can activate a shellfish allergy in those who are allergic. This implies that many people are likewise encouraged to avoid being around seafood when it’s being cooked.
A wheat allergy is an allergic action to one of the proteins found in wheat.
It tends to impact children the most. Although, children with a wheat allergy frequently outgrow it by the time they reach 10 years of age.
Like other allergies, a wheat allergy can lead to digestive distress, hives, vomiting, rashes, swelling and, in extreme cases, anaphylaxis.
It is often confused with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten level of sensitivity, which can have comparable gastrointestinal symptoms.
However, a true wheat allergy causes an immune reaction to among the hundreds of proteins found in wheat. This reaction can be extreme and sometimes even fatal.
On the other hand, celiac illness and non-celiac gluten level of sensitivity are not life threatening. They are caused by an unusual immune reaction to one specific protein — gluten — that likewise occurs to be discovered in wheat.
People with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten level of sensitivity need to avoid wheat and other grains which contain the protein gluten.
Individuals with a wheat allergy only need to avoid wheat and can tolerate gluten from grains that don’t consist of wheat.
A wheat allergy is frequently detected through skin prick testing.
The only treatment is to avoid wheat and wheat-containing products. This implies preventing foods, as well as beauty and cosmetic products, that contain wheat.
Soy allergies affect around 0.4% of children and are most commonly seen in infants and children under 3.
They are triggered by a protein in soybeans or soybean-containing products. Nevertheless, around 70% of children who are allergic to soy outgrow the allergy.
The signs can vary from an itchy, tingly mouth and runny nose to a rash and asthma or breathing difficulties. In uncommon cases, a soy allergy can also trigger anaphylaxis.
Remarkably, a small number of babies who are allergic to cow’s milk are also allergic to soy.
Common food triggers of soy allergy include soybeans and soy products like soy milk or soy sauce. Given that soy is found in lots of foods, it’s important to check out food labels.
Like other allergies, the only treatment for soy allergy is the avoidance of soy.
Fish allergies are common, affecting up to around 2% of grownups.
Unlike other allergies, it’s not unusual for a fish allergy to surface area later on in life, with 40% of individuals establishing the allergy as an adult.
Like a shellfish allergy, a fish allergy can cause a major and possibly fatal allergic reaction. The primary symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea, but, in rare cases, anaphylaxis can also happen.
This suggests that those who are allergic to fish are generally offered an epi-pen to bring in case they inadvertently consume fish.
Because the signs can be comparable, a fish allergy is often puzzled for a reaction to a contaminant in fish, such as bacteria, viruses or toxic substances.
What’s more, since shellfish and fish with fins don’t carry the same proteins, individuals who are allergic to shellfish might not be allergic to fish.
Nevertheless, many individuals with a fish allergy are allergic to several kinds of fish.
The 8 food allergies outlined above are the most common ones.
However, there are many more.
Less common food allergies can trigger an array of symptoms, varying from mild itching of the lips and mouth (known as oral allergy syndrome) to life-threatening anaphylaxis.
Some less common food allergies include:
- Sesame seed.
- Kiwi fruit.
- Passion fruit.
- Mustard seeds.
Think You Have a Food Allergy?
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell food allergies and food intolerances apart.
If you think you have a food allergy, it’s important to talk to your doctor.
To learn whether you have an allergy or an intolerance, your doctor will probably carry out a number of diagnostic tests.
- Dietary review: An in-depth review of foods eaten, including timing and signs.
- Skin prick screening: A percentage of food is “pricked” into the skin using a tiny needle. The skin is then kept track of for a reaction.
- Oral food difficulties: The problem food is eaten in a controlled environment under medical guidance in gradually increasing quantities.
- Blood tests: In some situations, blood will be drawn and the level of IgE antibodies determined.
If you are allergic to a food, your doctor will encourage you on how to manage it. Your doctor might likewise refer you to a registered dietitian to assist with managing your diet.
The Bottom Line
Most food allergies are triggered by 8 foods: cow’s milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, fish, soy and wheat.
Unlike food intolerances, food allergies are brought on by your immune system incorrectly recognizing a few of the proteins in food as harmful.
This can cause possibly life-threatening reactions, and the only treatment is the elimination of the food from your diet.
If you think you have a food allergy, speak to your doctor about it.