How do you know you have a food allergy?

Food allergies can be mild or serious, with some allergies triggering anaphylactic shock and the need for emergency care . Although many people think that food allergies occur and are diagnosed during childhood, they can develop or worsen at any time in life. It is even possible for people to develop allergies to foods that they have eaten without any issue in the past. Could food allergies be causing your symptoms? Here is a look at some of the signs of food allergies.

Anaphylaxis
Anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction that requires emergency care. It occurs when the immune system over-responds to exposure to an allergen and floods the body with chemicals. These chemicals cause you to go into shock. For some people, anaphylaxis is the first indication of an allergy.

Anaphylaxis causes:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Cardiac arrest

Allergy symptoms
For many people, mild to moderate symptoms that occur after eating a certain food are indicators of an allergy. These symptoms include:

  • Rash
  • Itchy skin or throat
  • Watery eyes
  • Hives
  • Shortness of breath/wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Nausea/vomiting

In most cases, these symptoms appear within minutes of eating food, but a delayed reaction is possible hours after being exposed to the trigger food.

Allergy testing
If your physician suspects that you could have a food allergy, he or she may recommend testing. Skin prick tests are common. During these tests, your physician will put a small amount of the suspected trigger on your skin and then use a small needle to prick the surface of your skin, allowing the trigger to seep in. If a bump appears at the exposure site, you may be allergic to that substance.

Oral food challenges are another kind of testing. During these tests, your physician will give you a small amount of a suspected trigger to eat and observe your reactions as you eat larger amounts of it. This allows for definitive diagnoses of food allergies.

The ER at Regional Medical Center of San Jose is open around the clock to treat anaphylaxis and other conditions that require emergency care in San Jose. To get more information about our services, please call (888) 762-8881.

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