When you have a food allergy, your body experiences an immune system reaction shortly after eating a particular food. For some people, this causes uncomfortable physical symptoms. For others, the allergic reaction is much more severe and can result in death.
According to recent estimates, food allergy affects three percent of adults and up to eight percent of children under the age of three. Most children outgrow these allergies, but sometimes they don’t. There’s also the possibility that food allergies can develop later in life.
Read on for 13 of the most common food allergies…
Peanut allergy is common. In fact, peanuts (which technically aren’t nuts) are one of the top allergy-causing foods, producing reactions that can range from mildly irritating to severe and life-threatening.
Peanut allergy symptoms include itching, hives, sneezing, and abdominal pain. If anaphylaxis occurs, then there may be dizziness, throat swelling, shortness of breath, etc. Anaphylaxis can cause death.
Tree nuts, like peanuts (legumes), can cause allergic reactions that range in severity due to the proteins they contain. In some cases, overreactions to these proteins by the immune system can be deadly.
Walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, pistachios, and cashews are all examples of tree nuts known to cause reactions. The symptoms are the same as those with peanut allergies.
Lupin (also called “lupine”) is a legume from the same plant family as peanuts, and because it is related to the peanut, it contains similar allergens. Thus, lupin can trigger similar symptoms and anaphylaxis.
The lupin is used to make a lot of different savory and sweet foods. This includes sauces, baked foods, fermented foods, and everyday meals. The beans are a common street/bar snack in many places.
The soy from soybeans is used to make soy milk, tofu, and soy sauce, as well as a variety of meat and dairy substitutes and many other foods. Soybeans (edamame) are sometimes eaten whole.
While soy is a common ingredient in food products (especially processed foods), not everyone can eat it. Mild symptoms of soy allergy include hives and itching. Severe reactions include anaphylaxis.
Some people are allergic to milk and will develop a reaction within minutes or hours of consuming milk or milk products. Milk allergy is different from lactose intolerance, which isn’t dangerous.
Milk allergy tends to affect infants and toddlers. Most grow out of it by age five, fortunately. It is possible to be allergic to cow’s milk (most common), goat’s milk, and milk from buffalo and other mammals.
With egg allergies, the body’s immune system overreacts to proteins in the egg yolk or egg white (or both), causing typical allergy symptoms. Anaphylactic shock can occur, but this is rare.
Because many food products contain eggs, it’s important for egg allergy sufferers to read food labels. Foods that contain eggs include mayonnaise, cakes, and desserts, as well as some meat products.
Over the years, there have been global reports of allergic reactions to all kinds of vegetables. Most of these reports have involved the consumption of celery, though. That is celery root (aka celeriac).
The symptoms of celery allergy are often mild and generally affect the mouth, causing minor itching, tingling, and swelling. However, some sufferers may experience severe, life-threatening reactions.
Shellfish are well known for causing allergic reactions in sensitive individuals, especially shellfish belonging to the crustacean family – crayfish, crabs, shrimp/prawns, lobsters, etc.
Allergies in crustaceans have a tendency to develop with age, and one doesn’t necessarily need to consume shellfish to experience allergy symptoms. Just handling it can trigger an allergic reaction.
Mollusks are another type of shellfish that can trigger allergy symptoms. Reactions may occur with the consumption of mussels, clams, oysters, squid, octopus, and many other sea foods.
Allergenic proteins can be found in different species of mollusk. Moreover, it’s not just marine mollusks that can cause problems; eating land mollusks like snails (escargot) can also trigger reactions.
People who have a fish allergy are typically allergic to more than one type of fish. This is because there is a lot of fish that contain similar proteins. Cod, herring, and salmon are a few examples.
In general, fish allergies are less common than other types of food allergies. It’s important to note that finned fish allergy is a common cause of anaphylaxis, and allergies can develop at any age.
Mustard allergy is relatively uncommon. Yet, like fish allergies, it can trigger serious reactions. Mustard sources include spices, sauces, baby food, salad dressings, soups, processed meats, and vegetable pickles.
Minor mustard allergy symptoms like a runny nose, nasal congestion, and skin irritation can be treated with antihistamines, while severe anaphylactic reactions require epinephrine shots.
Sesame allergy, which is triggered by foods containing sesame seeds or sesame oil, is rising sharply in the United States and other countries. It is one of the most common food allergens in Canada.
Sesame is a popular ingredient that is widely used in foods. It can be found in baked goods, cereals, margarine, dressings, and much more. Some cosmetics, supplements, and medications also contain sesame.
Sulphites are compounds used as an additive in foods to preserve shelf life and prevent bacterial/fungal growth. You can find them in wine, ciders, vinegar, processed meats, and more.
Allergic reactions to sulphites don’t occur that often. However, a lot of men and women are sensitive to sulphites, particularly asthmatics. The release of sulphur dioxide causes airway constriction.