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Food allergy affects up to 6 to 8 percent of children under the age of three and 2 percent of adults. It can cause serious illness and, in some cases, death.
Common Food Allergens
In adults, the foods that most often cause allergic reactions include
The most common foods that cause problems in children are
Tree nuts and peanuts are the leading causes of deadly food allergy reactions called anaphylaxis.
Food allergens are proteins within the food that enter your bloodstream after the food is digested. From there, they go to target organs, such as your skin or nose, and cause allergic reactions. An allergic reaction to food can take place within a few minutes to an hour. The process of eating and digesting food affects the timing and the location of a reaction.
Testing for food allergies is the same as airborne allergies.
Food allergy is treated by avoiding the foods that trigger the reaction. Once you and your health care provider have identified the foods to which you are sensitive, you must remove them from your diet. To do this, you must read the detailed ingredient lists on each food you are considering eating.
If you have eaten the allergic foods, you may take the following medicines to relieve symptoms:
Anaphylaxis is a sudden, potentially fatal, allergic reaction that can involve various parts of the body (such as the respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, skin, and cardiovascular system). Among food allergens, peanuts and tree nuts are most likely to trigger this deadly reaction. Anaphylaxis requires immediate administration of epinephrine (adrenaline) and possibly other emergency medical services. If you have previously been diagnosed with anaphylaxis, you should carry a syringe of epinephrine, obtained by prescription from your doctor, and be prepared to give it to yourself if you think you are getting a food allergic reaction.