Sometimes you’re born with food allergies, and other times these allergies develop later in life. The most common food allergies are to foods such as peanuts, milk, soy, tree nuts, and shellfish. But food allergies could really happen for anything you might eat — and they might develop at any age.
But the term “food allergy” has often been somewhat misunderstood. Someone who gets some acne or a slight stomachache after eating ice cream, for example, might think they have a food allergy, mistaking what could be a different negative reaction to dairy as an allergic reaction. Plus, breakouts and stomachaches can happen after eating dairy for reasons that have nothing to do with food. Stress causes breakouts. Stress causes stomachaches, too. Breakouts can also be caused by pollution, dehydration, inflammation from other causes… So before you jump to cutting out all dairy because of a pimple, you might want to seek other solutions.
But many people do experience a hypersensitivity to certain foods — they may become bloated, experience gas, or get headaches. These sensitivities are often referred to as intolerances.
Being intolerant to a certain food is hugely different from being allergic to it. Someone who is mildly lactose intolerant may get bloated after eating cheese. But someone with a milk allergy actually has a histamine reaction after eating it.
A histamine reaction occurs when the body assumes a substance is harmful to the body and tries to get rid of it. People with allergies release histamines when the body detects whatever they’re allergic to, sometimes releasing far too many and putting their health in danger. Some people with a milk allergy seriously have to steer clear — or they could have a reaction severe enough to end in death.
Allergies are no joke — which is why it’s important to know what symptoms to look for. If you develop an allergy later in life, you want to be prepared. You should know when to seek medical attention and when to get an allergy test from your doctor. These 11 symptoms are often characteristic of histamine reactions, or allergic reactions, to food.
Spring allergies to pollen and other irritants can cause itchy eyes — and so can food if you’re allergic. Histamine reactions can have any number of symptoms, and itchy, runny eyes are one of them. If you keep tearing up after eating a certain food, it might be time to get checked.
Does your throat feel a little scratchy? You could be catching a cold — or it could be what’s called “oral allergy syndrome.” It’s the most common form of food allergy in adults, and it occurs because certain proteins in fruits and vegetables are similar to those that cause seasonal allergies. Your lips might swell up, you could feel a tingling in your gums, or you could experience some other kind of irritation.
Allergies result in the release of histamines inside your body. Wherever these compounds are released is usually where the resulting discomfort will occur. If histamines are released in your gastrointestinal tract, you might get some stomach upset. The good news is that an antihistamine will probably help — or you could try one of these stomach-soothing teas to ease your nausea.
Don’t be alarmed if you get winded after running up a flight of stairs. But if you find yourself feeling a rapid heartbeat when you otherwise should be feeling completely calm, take notice. This is sometimes a symptom of an allergic reaction; if it occurs directly after eating, it could be the food. It could also be a whole ton of other things, though, ranging from a heart problem to anxiety.
Hives are one of the most common symptoms of an allergic reaction. People often make the mistake of thinking that hives always occur directly at the site of contact to whatever the person is reacting to. But even if your allergy is to something you ate, these hives aren’t always in your mouth or where you touched the food. They could actually show up elsewhere on your skin. If you consistently experience an inexplicable rash after eating a certain food, you could be allergic.
If you’ve just eaten something you’re allergic to, it’s possible that histamines could be released in your respiratory tract. This can result in feelings similar to coming down with a cold: sneezing, runny nose, etc. If you do have a runny nose, you might want to avoid certain foods — they could make your symptoms worse.
When histamines are released from within your gastrointestinal tract it can cause aches and pains. Stomachaches could occur for any number of reasons, however — so don’t automatically assume it’s an allergy. If the pain is severe, seek medical care.
Histamines can result in significant swelling — sometimes so severe that it can block airways. If you start to swell up after eating or touching a certain food, seek prompt medical attention. It could be an early sign of anaphylactic shock.
This symptom is called “dysphagia.” Your esophagus may be swelling up due to a histamine reaction, causing discomfort. This could be an early sign of anaphylactic shock — so you should probably rush to a doctor ASAP.
If the histamine reaction in your gastrointestinal tract is severe, it can result in vomiting. A person may mistake a food allergy for food poisoning if they don’t experience other telltale allergy symptoms. However, this is highly uncommon. Usually, other symptoms will accompany vomiting, such as an itchy mouth or throat. See a doctor if you experience unexplained vomiting. They can help you understand what’s going on.
If someone is severely allergic to a certain food, eating it could cause their airways to constrict to the point where it becomes dangerous. Having trouble breathing, or wheezing audibly, is a serious symptom — don’t assume this will simply go away. Get to a doctor to receive treatment and, hopefully, get to the bottom of what you’re allergic to. We know what you’re thinking: Wow, these food allergy symptoms sound really severe! And you’re right. So if you feel a slight stomach upset after eating bread, you’re probably not allergic to gluten. The idea that gluten allergies are super common is actually a myth — just like these other gluten misconceptions.
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