Food allergies affect about 50 million Americans, and in some of these cases food allergies are so severe that they are life-threatening. With a food allergy, the immune system identifies an otherwise harmless food as a threat to the body and overreacts with symptoms ranging from nausea to anaphylaxis. Food allergies may develop during infancy or childhood, or they can develop in adults. In both situations, food allergies are typically difficult to predict. At Allergy & Asthma Specialists, you can find exceptional care for food allergies with offices throughout the greater Philadelphia area. Our team will safely identify your food allergies and offer care to reduce adverse reactions so that food allergies do not impede your quality of life.
Signs of a Food Allergy
Many people confuse food allergies with food intolerance, but there are some key differences. Food allergies will produce sudden symptoms, which may be triggered by even just a small amount of food. Allergic reactions will take place every time the food is eaten, regardless of the amount consumed. An allergic reaction is also an immune response, while food intolerances are caused by a sensitivity or inability to digest a certain food. Below, you’ll get a closer look at the symptoms of a food allergy.
- Minor symptoms – Most often, food allergies will lead to reactions such as hives, coughing, shortness of breath, or vomiting and stomach cramps. While these symptoms will cause discomfort, they are generally not life-threatening and will respond to at-home treatment with an antihistamine.
- Serious allergic reactions – Foods such as shellfish and peanuts tend to have the most severe reactions including chest tightness, trouble breathing, tightness of the throat, or tingling of the lips and extremities. This type of reaction may require the use of epinephrine and emergency care in the hospital.
Common Food-Based Allergens
Only a handful of foods account for nearly 90% of all food allergies, but unfortunately these foods are very common ingredients in processed foods and prepared foods, so it may be a challenge to avoid them.
- Peanuts/tree nuts
Managing Food Allergies
Accurately diagnosing food allergies is the first step in proper treatment. A skin test will be used to identify foods that will trigger your allergies, and this will let you see which foods you need to avoid. Your allergist will discuss some helpful recipes and strategies for dining out so that you are not likely to have accidental exposures to trigger foods.
In some cases, patients can outgrow their allergies, so food challenges may be appropriate to test for symptoms. During a food challenge, you will consume foods that have previously caused allergic reactions under the close supervision of your allergist. If no reaction occurs, the allergy is no longer present. Known in the region as caring for the most challenging, high risk food allergic patients, the allergists of Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM regularly supervise food testing and food challenges at all eight office locations. Our allergists are also available to perform high risk food challenges in a hospital short procedure unit to insure state of the art monitoring of the patient.
Fellowship trained, board certified allergists/immunologists comprise the entire physician staff of Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM. Allergy doctors at this premier medical practice provide comprehensive care for food allergies, including peanut sublingual immunotherapy, at offices located in center city Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown and Collegeville, Pennsylvania. Schedule an appointment today online or by calling 1-800-86COUGH, ext 2.