Ah, the holidays! Family… food… football… allergies! That’s right. The holiday season can be a dangerous time for people with food allergies – whether you are aware of the allergy or not. And to compound the potential danger or discomfort, we tend to drop our guard during the holiday season festivities and, let’s be honest, eat things we wouldn’t normally eat in quantities we might not normally eat them.
Plus, who wants to insult the host by asking what the ingredients are in that holiday delicacy – even if it could put you or a loved one at risk? The most common food allergies are egg, dairy, tree nut, peanut, soy, wheat and shellfish. By themselves, these ingredients can be very obvious. But sometimes, they’re hidden in otherwise “safe” foods found at the holiday table. So what exactly is a food allergy and how do you know if you have one?
Often times we think of a food allergy triggering something referred to as Anaphylaxis, a sudden and severe reaction involving two or more body systems. These symptoms can affect the skin (rash, hives, itching), the respiratory tract (tightness in the chest, wheezing or shortness of breath) or even gastrointestinal tract (stomach ache, pains or diarrhea). The symptoms may require a response by 911, emergency room evaluation and use of epinephrine.
What are some of the milder symptoms that you may experience? Some of the more common “healthy” food allergies are to peanuts, bananas, milk and strawberries. If you notice that after eating or drinking you experience any negative symptoms, such as a runny nose, nasal congestion, a quick accumulation of mucus in the throat or a post nasal drainage, you can suspect a food allergy. You may notice an itching of your skin with or without a rash.
Difficulty breathing, symptoms of asthma or even shortness of breath may be triggered by a food allergy. Food allergies can trigger stomach aches or pains with or without diarrhea which may cause people to think that it’s more of an irritable bowel disease. It’s important to note that Irritable Bowel Disease may become worse with food allergies and people with Irritable Bowel Disease may benefit form an allergy evaluation.
If you experience, these symptoms, you should contact your medical practitioner. And in case you were wondering, yes, you can grow into or out of food allergies and the danger or severity of reaction can also change over time.