You may periodically have headaches, constipation, stomach aches and diarrhea, but write them all off as having a bad day or eating something a little off for lunch. You may actually be experiencing a food allergy. Most food allergies can be successfully treated or avoided. Learn how various foods can cause you to be uncomfortable:
The Biggest Offenders
Just eight foods that you may encounter daily cause 90 percent of the food allergies, says the Mayo Clinic. These foods include:
- peanuts and other groundnuts
- tree nuts such as almonds, walnuts and cashews
These foods show up in allergies so often that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has mandated that they be listed on ingredients labels on food.
The Common Symptoms of a Food Allergy
The symptoms of a food allergy are similar to those displayed by other allergies such as hay fever. Your skin, digestion, breathing, heart and circulation can be affected. The symptoms can occur immediately or take several hours to appear. They can also range from a minor annoyance to severe and debilitating.
Your system may react to a small amount of a food to which you are allergic, so it's important to understand where the food may show up so you don't consume large quantities inadvertently.
The most common symptoms you can have, from mild to severe include:
- coughing, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes
- rash or inflammation
- stomach cramps
- breathing difficulties
- inflammation in the mouth or throat
- nausea and vomiting
Specific Food Allergies
Milk - Much research has gone into studying milk allergies. An allergy to milk is mainly to the proteins found in cow's milk. Your antibodies are triggered by these proteins, producing the allergic reaction. If you have a reaction to cow's milk, you may be able to drink sheep or goat milk. If the proteins in all types of animal milk provoke a reaction, you could try rice or almond milk.
Peanuts - An allergy to groundnuts starts at an early age and you rarely grow out of it. Some people have severe breathing difficulties when coming onto contact with just a small portion of these nuts. You need to also look carefully at food labels and note where products are being manufactured or packaged with the same equipment that processes peanuts.
Wheat - Gluten in wheat has become a food that causes digestion problems in people with a wheat allergy. There is only treatment, not cures, for the symptoms, but gluten-free diets can reduce your exposure to this allergen.
Since food allergy symptoms can look similar to other allergic reactions, a visit to an allergy clinic is needed to pinpoint the precise allergen. In some cases, the doctor will gradually remove items from your diet to try to isolate the food allergen. In severe cases, skin and blood tests may be used identify the products sooner.