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Signs and Symptoms of Food Allergies

A food allergy is an antibody reaction to a normally harmless food.  Common food allergies are to peanuts, shellfish, fish, wheat, soy, milk, eggs and MSG.  A food sensitivity is a non-immune reaction to various foods that is non-threatening.  For instance, lactose intolerance is due to a deficiency in the enzyme lactase, whereas a true milk allergy is an allergic reaction to the protein component in the milk.  We have put together a list of common signs and symptoms of food allergies, anaphylactic shock, and food sensitivities below.

Also, we have information on diagnosis, helpful books and valuable resources for patients.

The Most Common Signs and Symptoms of Food Allergies include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the throat
  • Hives and rashes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Wheezing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Red, itchy or watery eyes
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • A strange, unreal feeling
  • Anxiety
  • Swollen, puffy face
  • Swollen tongue
  • Dizziness or fainting

Signs and Symptoms of Anaphylactic Shock

  • Constriction of the airways
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapidly swelling hives
  • A sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Shock

Signs and Symptoms of Food Sensitivities

  • Abdominal cramps and bloating
  • Headache
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of ability to think clearly
  • Depression
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Heart palpitations
  • Weight gain
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Congestion

Anaphylactic shock is a medical emergency.  If you have signs and symptoms of anaphylactic shock, get emergency help immediately.  Anaphylactic shock can be quickly fatal.

A true food allergy affects approximately four percent of the adult population, and six to eight percent of children.  Some children outgrow their food allergies.  Most children with peanut allergies do not outgrow them.  Food sensitivities are very common in the general population.  Food sensitivities cause bothersome symptoms, but they are not dangerous or fatal.

Diagnosis of Food Allergies

A diagnosis of food allergies and food sensitivities is done through a description of your symptoms, an elimination diet, a skin test or a blood test.

Books For People with Signs and Symptoms of Food Allergies

NAET: Say Good-Bye to Your Allergies
Devi S. Nambudripad
Food Allergies For Dummies
Joe Kraynak

Allergies: Disease in Disguise : How to Heal Your Allergic Condition Permanently and Naturally
Carolee Bateson-Koch
Food Allergies and Food Intolerance: The Complete Guide to Their Identification and Treatment
Jonathan Brostoff

Food Allergies Resources

General Patient Resources

  • The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network

Nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing about a clearer understanding of the issues surrounding food allergies and providing helpful resources.

  • Kids With Food Allergies Foundation

Nonprofit charity providing a forum for parents of children with severe food allergies and related problems. Includes recipes and international alerts.

  • Food Allergy Families Support Group

Are you or a family member living with food allergies or limitations? Join us as we navigate the challenges and rewards of living with a restricted diet.

  • Kids Health

For parents, children and teens. Food allergies can cause serious and even deadly reactions in kids, so it’s important to know how to feed a child with food allergies and to prevent reactions.

  • Parents of Food Allergic Kids Support Forums

Our Parents of Food Allergic Kids (POFAK) Community is the largest online support group dedicated to food allergies.

Medical Resources

  • Mayo Clinic

Comprehensive overview covers symptoms, testing and treatment of this troublesome food reaction.

  • Web MD

Information about what foods tend to trigger allergies and how to avoid the problem is discussed by WebMD.

  • Medline Plus

A service of the US National Library of Medicine.