Further Allergy Information
Food Allergy Facts and Figures
A food allergy occurs when the body’s immune system sees a certain food as harmful and reacts by causing symptoms. This is an allergic reaction. Foods that cause allergic reactions are called allergens. Allergic reactions can involve the skin, mouth, eyes, lungs, heart, gut and brain. Mild and severe symptoms can lead to a serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis (anna-fihLACK-sis). This reaction usually involves more than one part of the body and can worsen quickly. Anaphylaxis must be treated right away to provide the best chance for improvement and prevent serious, potentially life-threatening complications.
What Are the Most Frequent Food Allergies?
Eight foods cause 90 percent of most food allergy reactions: Milk Egg Peanut Tree nut (e.g., almonds, walnut, pecans, cashews, pistachios) Wheat Soy Fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod) Shellfish (e.g., crab, shrimp, scallop, clams) Allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish tend to persist lifelong. Allergies to milk, egg, wheat and soy often disappear with age, but not always.
What Is Anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction.
Not all allergic reactions are anaphylactic.
Anaphylaxis can cause: Tightening of the airways Swelling of the throat Severely low blood pressure Shock Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include: Skin: hives (often very itchy), flushed skin or rash Mouth: swelling of the lips, tongue and throat; tingling or itchy feeling in the mouth Lungs: shortness of breath, trouble breathing, coughing or wheezing Heart: dizziness, lightheadedness Stomach: vomiting, diarrhea Food, latex, insect stings and medicines can cause a severe allergic reaction.
How Are Food Allergies Managed and Treated?
There is currently no cure for food allergies. Avoiding the allergen is the most important way to prevent a reaction. Those with food allergies should carefully read food labels and always ask about ingredients before eating the food. Epinephrine is the first line of treatment for anaphylaxis. Those with food allergies should always have epinephrine auto-injectors on hand. If a person is having anaphylaxis, they should: Follow their Anaphylaxis Action Plan Use their epinephrine auto-injector Call 999 and state the word: ANAPHALAXIS