What are the Most Common Food Allergies?

Food allergies are very common in babies and children. However, they can appear at any age. Sometimes a reaction occurs the first time the food is consumed and other times people have reactions to foods they’ve eaten hundreds of times before.

Allergies can be confusing, and you can develop a new allergy to a food with little or no warning. Symptoms of a food allergy include any or all of the following:

● Swelling of the tongue or throat

● Tingling in the mouth

● Hives

● Difficulty breathing

● Abdominal cramps

● Vomiting or diarrhea

● Dizziness or fainting

● Low blood pressure

Symptoms of a food allergy usually appear within minutes of eating the food and more commonly result in severe allergic reactions than most other substances.

There are eight foods that account for 90% of all food allergies. They include:

● Milk

● Eggs

● Peanuts

● Tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts)

● Fish

● Shellfish

● Wheat

● Soy

While these are the most common, any food can in theory cause an allergic reaction. Not all foods have been documented as causing them, but that’s not to say they can’t.

Sesame is increasingly recognized as a ninth food that commonly causes allergic reactions.

Food Allergies are Serious

In addition to food, allergies to insect stings, medication, and latex are the most common causes of anaphylaxis, which is a severe reaction that can result in death. It’s important to take food allergies very seriously.

Many people think that food allergies might cause a tummy ache or that they’re not that big of a deal, but one of the fastest ways to get something into your bloodstream is absorption through the mouth.

Allergens from many foods enter directly into the bloodstream immediately upon consumption and travel rapidly throughout the body. If you’re allergic to a certain food, the absolute worst thing you can do is eat it.

Your body will usually react within minutes of eating a food you’re allergic to. In rare cases, it takes thirty minutes or more. Even trace amounts of exposure to these foods can lead to irritating symptoms like a rash or hives, if not swelling of the face and throat that could lead to difficulty breathing.

In the most severe cases, food allergies are fatal.

Understanding Food Allergies

Because food allergies are so serious, it’s important to understand how severe they can be and know how to recognize them when they happen. Pay attention to the range of symptoms and seek immediate medical attention if you see any of these symptoms.

Many people who have known food allergies carry an epinephrine injector and ideally, everyone who has a severe known allergy should wear a medical alert bracelet.

Upon severe reaction, check to see if the person has an epinephrine injector. If they do, administer it and then seek emergency medical attention. If they do not, seek immediate medical attention.

It’s important to get to the emergency room after a reaction no matter what. This ensures that the allergy is treated effective and reduces the chances of it recurring.

After a trip to the emergency room, always follow up with your physician or allergist. Medical diagnosis of a food allergy is a complicated but important step. This ensures that you get the prescription medications you need to protect yourself from it happening again.

Preventing Allergic Reactions to Food

A medical diagnosis is the first step. From an allergy or immunology specialist, you can get an epinephrine injector or other medication you need. In addition to the medical care you need to manage the allergy, you should also do everything you can to avoid the substance.

Carefully read all food labels for traces of the food to which you’re allergic. Even trace amounts of the substance can cause a severe reaction, so it’s best to avoid it altogether.

When eating out, read the menu carefully and ask how dishes are prepared so you know exactly what ingredients they use. Ask specifically about the food you’re allergic to and they will be able to find the answer if they don’t already know.

Many people don’t think food allergies are as serious as they really are. Even a minor allergy can have a serious long-term impact on your health if it’s ignored. It’s important to understand allergies, know how to handle them, and be prepared to prevent them as much as possible.


Mathew M. Varghese, MD

Diplomate American Board of Internal Medicine

Diplomate American Board of Allergy/Immunology

136 North Washington Ave. Suite 203

Bergenfield, NJ 07621


8901 Kennedy Blvd West, Suite 4SW

North Bergen, NJ 07047


Tel:  201-374-1718  

Fax: 201-374-1719




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