Four Signs You Are Having a Food Sensitivity or an Allergic Reaction

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About one in ten American adults have a food allergy, and millions more have food sensitivities.

For some people, reactions to food allergies can be life-threatening, though most experience symptoms that are less severe. It’s important to formally diagnose a food allergy, so you know what triggers to avoid. If you’re concerned you may have a food allergy or sensitivity, Dr. Jeff Semel and the team at Atlanta Medical Institute can help residents of the Atlanta, GA area understand what food allergies they have. Every person is different, but generally, there are a few common types of food sensitivity reactions.

1. Anaphylaxis

The most severe food sensitivity reaction is anaphylaxis, which can tighten airways, raise the pulse, and cause lightheadedness or loss of consciousness. Emergency treatment is required for anaphylactic allergic reactions, as it can cause coma or death. The most common triggers for food-related anaphylaxis are peanuts, milk, eggs, sesame seeds, fish, shellfish, and tree nuts. If you’ve had an anaphylactic reaction after eating or drinking something and you’re unsure what caused it, Dr. Semel and the team at Atlanta Medical Institute can conduct an allergy test to pinpoint the cause. Wheezing, nasal congestion, and trouble breathing are also signs of food sensitivity, though they are generally not emergency situations unless you are unable to breathe. Food-induced anaphylaxis can happen very quickly, while most other types of food allergies take a few hours for symptoms to appear.

2. Skin discomfort

More common than anaphylaxis are food sensitivity signs, like itching or tingling on the lips, tongue, or mouth; and itching, hives, or rash on the skin. The most common culprits of skin discomfort include peanuts, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat, soy, tree nuts, sesame seeds, strawberries, tomatoes, melons, other fruits, canned goods, and wine.

3. Lip or tongue swelling

Swelling of the lips, tongue, face, throat, or other parts of the body is also a sign of food sensitivity reaction. Most often, the foods that cause swelling in the mouth and other areas of the body include fruits, tree nuts, vegetables, shellfish, and peanuts.

4. Abdominal pain

Abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting can all be signs of a food sensitivity reaction. The most common triggers for digestion-related food allergy symptoms include milk, gluten, wheat, barley, rye, oats, and nuts.

What causes food allergies?

Allergies, sensitivity, and intolerance to certain foods have a range of causes. In many cases, food allergies are genetic, and many people lack the enzymes necessary to digest some foods. This is the case with people who suffer from lactose intolerance or milk allergies. In other cases, food sensitivity and allergies can be caused by stress or sensitivity to food additives. For example, many people who experience a food sensitivity reaction after eating canned goods are having a reaction to the sulfites added to the food during the canning process and not necessarily the food itself.

Find out whether you have a food sensitivity

You should never ignore any food sensitivity reaction. While most are minor and will go away within a few hours, food allergies and sensitivities can result in serious health complications, including anaphylaxis, which requires immediate medical attention. Residents of the Atlanta, GA area who believe they have experienced any of the food sensitivity reactions on this list should schedule a food sensitivity test with Dr. Jeff Semel and the staff at Atlanta Medical Institute.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.