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People with food allergies have an allergic reaction when they come in contact or eat certain foods. This happens because their immune system overreacts to the proteins in that food. Twelve million people in the United States have food allergies. That’s one in 25, or 4% of the population. The incidence of food allergy is highest in young children, one in 17 among those is under age 3.
Food allergy may appear more often in someone who has family members with allergies, and symptoms may occur after that allergic individual consumes even a tiny amount of the food.
Eight foods account for 90% of all food-allergic reactions in the U.S. They are:
- Tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans, Brazil nuts, hickory nuts, macadamia nuts, filberts or hazel nuts)
Signs of a food allergy include:
- Skin rash, red itchy skin, eczema
- Stuffy or itchy nose, sneezing, or itchy and teary eyes
- Vomiting, stomach cramps or diarrhea
- Angioedema or swelling
- Wheezing and coughing
Some people with food allergies can have a serious reaction called anaphylaxis. The number of emergency room visits due to food-induced anaphylaxis in the U.S. ranges from 50,000 to 125,000, depending on the source.
Signs of a serious reaction include:
- Hoarseness, throat tightness or a lump in the throat
- Wheezing, chest tightness or trouble breathing
- Tingling and or itching. on the hands or feet, lips or scalp
- Generalized body swelling, hives
What can you expect following medical treatment for food allergy?
There is no cure for food allergy, but early recognition, diagnosis and management of food allergy by an allergy specialist is important to prevent serious health consequences. Food allergies are life-altering for everyone involved and require constant vigilance accompanied by a care plan that insures adequate nutrition and prevention of serious reactions.
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