Food Allergies Are On The Rise
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), millions of Americans have allergic reactions to food each year. Although most food allergies cause relatively mild and minor symptoms, some cause severe reactions and may be life-threatening.
While more than 160 foods can cause reactions in people with allergies, the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act identifies the eight most common allergenic foods as:
- Crustacean shellfish
- Tree nuts
Symptoms of food allergies typically appear within a few minutes to 2 hours after a person has eaten the food. Allergic reactions can include:
- Flushed skin or rash
- Tingling or itchy sensation in the mouth
- Face, tongue, or lip swelling
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Abdominal cramps
- Coughing or wheezing
- Dizziness and/or lightheadedness
- Swelling of the throat and vocal cords
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of consciousness
Following ingestion of a food allergen(s), some people with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This can lead to constricted airways in the lungs, severe lowering of blood pressure and shock, and suffocation by swelling of the throat.
According to the FDA, it’s estimated that yearly in the US, anaphylaxis to food results in:
- 30,000 emergency room visits
- 2,000 hospitalizations
- 150 deaths
The appearance of symptoms after eating food may be a sign of a food allergy. The affected person should contact a doctor, health care provider, or workplace medical staff member immediately.
Awareness of common allergens and their subsequent symptoms can help minimize a scary and potentially life-threatening situation.