Food Allergies

Peanut Allergy

As one of the most common food allergies, peanuts can cause a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Because even trace amounts of peanut can trigger a dangerous allergic reaction, those who suffer from peanut allergies should carry an epinephrine auto-injector, such as an EpiPin®, at all times.

Recent studies suggest that anywhere from 25 to 40 percent of people who suffer from peanut allergies are also allergic to tree nuts. Because many manufacturing plants do not process tree nuts and peanuts separately, patients with a peanut allergy should avoid tree nuts as well.

For most patients, a peanut allergy is a lifelong condition; however, recent studies show that approximately 20 percent of children with peanut allergies will outgrow them. If your oldest child has a peanut allergy, younger siblings are at an increased risk, and should also be tested.

Tree Nut Allergy (Almonds, Cashews, Walnuts)

An allergy to tree nuts is one of the most common in children and adults. It can trigger a severe, a possibly fatal reaction (anaphylaxis). If you suffer from any type of nut allergy, you should carry auto-injector (such as EpiPin®, Avi-Q® or Adrenaclick®) at all times.

Tree nut allergies include, but are not limited to walnuts, almonds, hazelnut, cashews, pistachios, and Brazil nuts. If you are allergic to one type of tree nut, you have a much higher chance of being allergic to another. Therefore, anyone with a tree nut allergy should avoid nuts of all kinds. You may also be advised to avoid peanuts because of the likelihood of cross-contact with tree nuts during manufacturing and processing.

Tree nut allergies tend to be lifelong, with only approximately 9 percent of children outgrowing it. If your oldest child has a nut allergy, younger siblings are at an increased risk, and should also be tested.

Milk Allergy

Most commonly found in infants and young children, the symptoms of an allergy to cow’s milk range from mild (hives) to severe (anaphylaxis). Anyone with a milk allergy should have access to an auto injector, such as an EpiPin® or an Avi-Q®, at all times. Strict avoidance of cow’s milk and products that contain cow’s milk is vital.

Approximately 2.5 million children under the age of three are allergic to cow’s milk. Nearly all infants who develop the allergy do so before the age of one. Although most children outgrow the allergy, it is likely to persist in those with a high level of cow’s milk anti-bodies in their blood. Blood tests can help determine the likelihood of a milk allergy resolving.

Milk allergy should not be confused with lactose intolerance. A food allergy is the immune system’s overreaction to a specific food protein and can be fatal. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may be mild such as rashes, hives, itches and swelling or severe such as trouble breathing, wheezing, and loss of consciousness. Food intolerance, on the other hand doesn’t not affect the immune system. And while symptoms may cause discomfort, they are not life-threatening.

Egg Allergy

Symptoms an egg allergy, the second most common food allergy, range from mild (hives) to severe (anaphylaxis). Anyone with an egg allergy should have access to an auto injector (such as EpiPin®, Avi-Q® or Adrenaclick®) at all times. Fortunately, most children outgrow an egg allergy.

Although the egg whites contain the allergenic protein, it is impossible to completely separate the white from the yoke. Strict avoidance of eggs and egg products is essential.

However, vaccines that contain traces egg protein, such as the MMR vaccine (measles-mumps-rubella), can be safely administered to children with an egg allergy. Influenza (flu) vaccines also contain egg proteins. If you or your children are allergic to eggs, talk to your doctor before receiving a flu shot.

Wheat Allergy

Wheat allergy most often affects children, and many outgrow a wheat allergy upon reaching adulthood, and often by the age of three.

Avoidance of wheat and all products containing what is necessary to avoid a reaction. Although this poses a dietary challenge, gluten-free grains such as barley, tapioca, quinoa, rice, and rye make great alternatives. However, approximately 20 percent of children with a wheat allergy are also allergic to other grains. Further allergy testing may be required to determine which grains are safe.

A wheat allergy is not the same as gluten intolerance or celiac disease. A food allergy is the immune system’s overreaction to a specific food protein and can be fatal. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may be mild such as rashes, hives, itching, and swelling or severe such as difficulty breathing and the loss of consciousness. Food intolerance, on the other hand doesn’t not affect the immune system. And while symptoms may cause discomfort, they are not life-threatening.

Soy Allergy

Soybeans are part of the legume family which includes beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts. People who are allergic to soy have no increased risk for other legume allergies (including peanut). A soy allergy is common, especially among babies and children, but most outgrow it by the age of 10, and many outgrow it by the time they are three years old.

Allergic reactions are typically mild, but rare, severe reactions can occur. Because of the risk of a severe reaction, patients with a soy allergy are advised to have access to an auto injector (such as EpiPin®, Avi-Q® or Adrenaclick®) at all times.

Strict avoidance of soy is necessary to prevent a reaction. In the United States, soybeans are widely used in processed foods. Be sure to check if soy is listed in the ingredients.

Fish Allergy

In some people, the consumption of finned fish can trigger a severe allergic reaction, such as anaphylaxis. If you suffer from any type of fish allergy, you should carry auto-injector (such as EpiPin®, Avi-Q® or Adrenaclick®) at all times.

Fish allergies are usually a lifelong condition, with approximately 40 percent of people experiencing their first reaction as adults. The most common fish allergies include: salmon, tuna, and halibut. If you are allergic to one type of finned fish, you are most likely allergic to another. Strict avoidance of fish and fish products is advised.

Finned fish and shellfish are not from related families, so being allergic to one does not mean that you must avoid both.

Shellfish Allergy

Shellfish allergies, which typically manifest in adults, can trigger a severe allergic reaction. If you suffer from any type of fish allergy, you should carry auto-injector (such as EpiPin®, Avi-Q® or Adrenaclick®) at all times.

The most common shellfish allergies include: shrimp, crab, and lobster.

There are two types of shellfish:

• Crustacea (such as shrimp and lobster)
• Mollusks (such as oysters and scallops)

Allergic reactions to crustacean tend to be most severe. If you are allergic to one group of shellfish, you may still be able to eat some varieties of the other. However, since patients are often allergic to various types, your allergist may advice you to avoid shellfish all together.

Finned fish do not come from the same family, so a shellfish allergy usually does not require giving up other types of fish as well.

Strict avoidance of shellfish is necessary to prevent a reaction. This also requires that you avoid touching shellfish, going to the fish market, and being in the same area where shellfish is being cooked.

Corn Allergy

An allergy to corn is rare, and a relatively small number of cases are found in medical literature. However, allergic reactions to corn can be severe. A reaction can be triggered by both raw and cooked corn. If you suffer from a corn allergy, you should consult with your allergist for individualized guidance.

Meat Allergy

Allergic reactions to certain meats, such as beef, chicken, mutton or pork, are uncommon. Someone with an allergy to one type of meat may not need to avoid other types of meat. Heating and cooking meat can also reduce the likelihood of developing an allergic reaction.

If you have a milk allergy, there is generally no need to avoid beef. The majority of people with a milk allergy can safely eat beef products. However, one study shows that almost 8 percent of the 62 children with a milk allergy also had an allergic reaction to beef. The study also found that well-cooked beef is less likely to cause a reaction in those who are allergic to milk.

Gelatin Allergy

Many vaccines contain porcine gelatin, which acts as a stabilizer. The allergy to gelatin is often the cause of an allergic reaction to vaccines.

If you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction after consuming gelatin, you should talk to your health care provider before receiving any vaccinations. If you have a severe allergy to gelatin, vaccines containing gelatin should be avoided.

Seed Allergy

Allergic reactions to seeds, while rare, can be severe. Sesame, sunflower, and poppy seeds are all known to cause anaphylaxis.

Those who are allergic to seeds should be mindful when consuming any baked goods; in addition, these patients should ensure that any hair care or cosmetic products do not contain seed extracts.

Those with seed allergies are advised to consult with an experienced allergist for specialized guidance.

Spice Allergy

Allergies to spices, such as coriander, garlic, and mustard, are rare and tend to be mild. However, severe reactions have been reported. Because some spices are known to cross-react with allergens such as birch pollen, those who have a heightened sensitivity to outdoor and environmental allergens may be at risk for contracting a spice allergy.

At the Center for Allergies & Asthma of Georgia, we specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of food allergies. If you have experienced any type of allergic reaction, call (404) 994-3574 schedule your appointment today. We have a no wait appointment policy at all Atlanta area locations.

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