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Know What to Do: Allergic Reactions to Food

Know What to Do: Allergic Reactions to Food

Written By: Ashley Kane on December 02, 2020

[Image description: A fork, knife, and spoon art piece in orange, yellow, and blue colors.]

Allergic reactions occur when your body responds to
 allergenin certain foods or the environment in a specific way. If you have an allergy, your immune system sees that substance as harmful and has a mild or severe responseA mild symptom might involve an itchy mouth, while a more severe one might include difficulty breathing. Keep reading to learn about the most common food allergies, how to avoid your food triggersand steps to take if you have an allergic reaction. 

Most common food allergies 

While many foods can cause allergic reactions, these are some of the most common:  

  • Eggs 
  • Fish (bass, cod, flounder) 
  • Milk 
  • Peanuts 
  • Shellfish (crab, lobster, shrimp) 
  • Soybeans 
  • Tree nuts 
  • Wheat 

It is important to check food labels for these major allergens or other ingredients if you or your child has a known or suspected allergy. This will reduce the chances of an allergic reaction and perhaps give you and your family peace of mind when enjoying your food.  

Tip: It’s also a good idea to tell your waiter or waitress about your food allergy if you’re eating at a restaurant or getting takeout. If you are at a holiday celebration or get-together, ask the host about the different food ingredients so you can stay safe and have a good time!  

Allergic reaction symptoms 

If you eat the food you’re allergic to or discover a reaction after eating a food for the first time, you may experience some of the following symptoms within minutes or hours: 

  • Coughing and/or wheezing 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Difficulty breathing  
  • Dizziness and/or lightheadedness 
  • Face, tongue, or lip swelling  
  • Hives 
  • Skin rash 
  • Stomach cramps 
  • Swollen throat 
  • Tingling or itchy sensation in the mouth 
  • Vomiting  

When to see a doctor 
if you have an allergic reaction 

If you think you may have a food allergy, it’s important to see a doctor for care, evaluation, and testing 

Though many food allergies first appear in young children, people can discover or develop food allergies at any stage of life so be sure to seek care if you have any concerns.  

Note: Food allergies can cause severe reaction called anaphylaxis, which requires emergency medical care. If you or someone you know is having trouble breathing, is in severe shock, or has a swollen throat, call 911 immediately and use epinephrine by autoinjector (an Epi-pen) if available.  

How telehealth can help 

Many allergic reactions can be treated online, especially if they’re mild and do not involve difficulty breathing, a racing heart rate, low blood pressure, or lightheadedness.  If you have questions about allergies or think you may be having a mild allergic reaction, talk to an Amwell provider from home, 24/7. 

If you’re looking for nutrition services or meal plan guidance, you can schedule a visit with a nutritionist anytime. Registered dietitians can help you come up with healthy meal plans without the foods to which you are sensitive. They can also help you track and manage other sensitivities such as lactose intolerance or provide support for conditions which flare when you eat certain types of food, such as celiac disease. Tap into care today! 

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