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The Most Common Food Allergies and How to Avoid Them

Having a food allergy requires a lifestyle change and dedication to avoiding the offending food and its derivatives. Food allergies are very common, and many types of foods can bring on allergic reactions. However, just eight foods are responsible for 90% of food allergies.

Allergy and immunology specialist Dr. Ulrike Ziegner at Riviera Allergy Medical Center diagnoses and counsels adults and children who have common and rare food allergies. If you suspect that you or your child has a food allergy, she conducts comprehensive testing to confirm your suspicion. 

Are you on the lookout for food allergy issues? It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the foods most likely to bring on an allergic reaction and learn where they’re found, so you can avoid them if Dr. Ziegner confirms a food allergy.

Food allergy symptoms

Food allergy symptoms aren’t as straightforward as you may think. Some individuals with a food allergy experience obvious symptoms very shortly after ingesting a food allergen. Others may have subtle, difficult-to-detect symptoms, or symptoms that occur hours after eating. 

Still, other people may experience vague symptoms that seem unrelated to their dietary intake. Visiting a specialist is the best way to find out if you or your child has a food allergy. Watch out for these food allergy symptoms:

You should seek immediate medical attention if you experience serious food allergy symptoms, such as swelling or tingling of the lips, eyes, tongue, or throat. These symptoms can be life-threatening.

The ‘Big 8’

Known as the “Big 8,” these common foods cause most cases of food allergies.

Cow’s milk 

An allergy to cow’s milk is common in young children and infants. Some children grow out of their allergy to cow’s milk, while others carry it into adulthood. If you have a food allergy, you must avoid all food made with cow’s milk, including:

Egg

Egg allergy is prominent in children, and you may notice signs and symptoms when your child begins to eat varied foods.

Egg contains a heat-labile protein, called Ovalbumin, which will be denaturated and therefore no longer be allergenic after the cooking process.  In contrast, the heat-stabile egg protein, Ovomucoid, will be allergenic despite being exposed to high temperatures. Dr. Ziegner can find out for you which egg protein you are allergic to.

Like cow’s milk allergy, some children outgrow egg allergy. Egg is a common ingredient in many foods so you need to stay vigilant in checking labels. Some foods to watch out for include:

Fish

People with fish allergy must avoid the many different types of fish available, as well as derivatives such as fish sauce. 

Of note is also SCOMBROID FISH POISONING, which is not an allergic reaction.  Many fish species contain histidine which will turn into histamine when the fish product gets old. Histamine will cause strong toxic reactions, even in non-allergic patients.  Make sure you buy fresh fish and consume it quickly! The list of scombroid fish includes tuna, mahi-mahi, mackerel, sardine, anchovy, herring, bluefish, amberjack, and marlin.

An allergy to fish can cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis. Some people are so sensitive that they can have a reaction to the mere smell of fish. Some of the main types of fish to steer clear of:

Shellfish

Shellfish are a diverse group of crustaceans and mollusks that have a shell. They’re notorious for causing severe reactions in people who are allergic. Because shellfish allergy can be so serious, it’s almost always called out on food labels and menus at restaurants. 

To avoid shellfish, you must check the warning label, as well as the ingredient list, and ask questions about prepared food at restaurants, even if it isn’t listed on the menu item. Common shellfish include:

Peanut

Peanuts are known for causing severe allergic reactions as well. These reactions can even occur from peanut dust in the air. 

Children and adults with peanut allergy must take extra precautions to avoid all sources of peanuts. You must carefully read labels and inquire with your server when eating at sit-down restaurants. Recently, a desensitizing drug to peanuts has been approved and a second one is in the pipeline.

Tree nuts

A tree nut allergy means you must take care to avoid any sort of nut that grows on trees. Nuts are found in everything from bread to ice cream. Most food manufacturers provide a voluntary allergen advisory on the label. You may have noticed such a warning indicating that a food “contains tree nuts” or “may contain tree nuts.” As such, you need to be wary of what you eat and check labels carefully before eating. Please read ingredient lists!

Wheat

Wheat is the most prevalent food allergy in children. Symptoms often show up very early in life. Wheat is found in a wide variety of foods, such as:

Soy

Soybean is one of the top 10 crops produced in the United States. Most soy is processed for its oil, and a smaller amount is used for foods such as:

Soy is usually called out on the food label warning that the item contains soybeans or its derivatives.

Partnering with an allergy specialist is the best way to manage food allergies. Call us at Riviera Allergy Medical Center at 310-504-3242 today to schedule an appointment at our Redondo Beach, California, office. You can also send a message to Dr. Ziegner and the team here on our website.

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