Food allergy starts with the immune system. When we eat foods that our immune system perceives as dangerous in some way, it launches a response that can range from uncomfortable to downright dangerous. It is usually the proteins in foods that kick off the immune response. The immune system may erroneously regard them as germs or some kind of harmful bacteria and release chemicals to “fight” them off. It’s an inappropriate response, but not an uncommon one. It’s estimated that 15 million Americans have food allergies. Food allergies are more common in kids. (Eight percent of kids suffer from food allergies as opposed to four percent of adults.)
Some symptoms may be mild. For example, when people have oral allergy syndrome (allergy to fruits and veggies), they may simply experience itching and swelling in the mouth and throat. Other food allergy symptoms are more severe and include irritable bowl syndrome (IBS)-type reactions:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain and cramps
Other food allergy symptoms include:
- Hay fever
The most common sources of food allergy include milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soy.
Allergies to food are usually treated depending on the severity of symptoms. For some people, simply avoiding the allergy-causing food is easy enough. However, for others, avoiding very common food like wheat may prove harder to do.