Food allergies are an immune response to a typically harmless food. These reactions can range from irritating to life-threatening. At Silver Falls Dermatology in Oregon and Washington, our allergists and providers can help patients better understand their food allergies and consider treatment options.
Common Food Allergens
The most common food allergens include:
- Tree nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds etc.)
Many other foods can cause allergic reactions. In addition to certain foods, patients can experience what is known as pollen-food allergy syndrome. This occurs when fruits, vegetables, nuts or spices contain similar proteins found in pollens that the patient is allergic to.
Food Allergy Symptoms
Allergic reactions to foods can range from mildly irritating to life-threatening. The most common food allergy symptoms include:
- Tingling or itchiness in the mouth
- Hives, itching or eczema-like reactions
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, throat or face
- Wheezing, congestion or difficulty breathing
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting or nausea
- Dizziness or fainting
- Anaphylaxis (tightening of the airways, swelling throat or tongue impeding breathing, rapid pulse and a sudden drop in blood pressure)
Food Allergy Testing and Treatment
Your provider may recommend food allergy testing so you can better understand and avoid your food allergens. This may involve a skin test, blood test, elimination diet or oral food challenge. In an elimination diet, you will be instructed to eliminate suspected food allergens from your regular diet for a set period of time before reintroducing them, monitoring your symptoms through the course of the test. This is safer for those with food allergy reactions that are non-life threatening.
In an oral food challenge test, you will be given small, increasing amounts of the suspected food allergen in your provider’s office. Through the course of the oral food challenge, your symptom development will be monitored and emergency intervention will be available should you experience a severe reaction.
Minor food allergic reactions can be treated using antihistamines. Those with severe reactions will be instructed to carry an emergency epinephrine autoinjector (EpiPen). In either case, you should avoid your food allergen.