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Did you know that more than 50 million Americans experience varying forms of allergies every year? Yet despite the vast number of Americans who are affected by allergies, this disease is often overlooked. If you have a food allergy, you know how difficult it can be to enjoy dining out, while staying alert of potential allergens. As we approach Food Allergy Action Month, let’s stop overlooking your allergies and start creating your action plan. 

What Triggers Food Allergies?

Food allergies occur when our immune system overreacts to a particular food. Our immune system is geared toward fighting off substances that threaten our health. When we experience an allergic reaction, it is because our immune system identifies a certain food as dangerous and responds in a defensive manner. 

Any type of food can trigger an allergic reaction. There are eight foods, however, that trigger 90% of allergic reactions due to food-related causes.

  1. Eggs
  2. Milk
  3. Peanuts
  4. Tree nuts
  5. Fish 
  6. Shellfish 
  7. Wheat
  8. Soy

Food Allergy Symptoms

If you have a food allergy, you will typically develop symptoms within minutes or seconds of food consumption. Here are some common signs that you may be experiencing a food allergy:

  • Itching or tingling sensation in your mouth 
  • Hives
  • Swelling of your face, mouth, and body
  • Difficulty swallowing 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sneezing

Anaphylaxis is an extreme allergic reaction that can lead to a more severe bodily response. If you experience any of the following symptoms of anaphylaxis, you should seek medical care immediately:

  • Swollen tongue
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Chest tightness
  • Faintness/ dizziness 
  • Confusion/ anxiety 
  • Quickened heart rate

Your Allergy Action Plan: What You Can Do

Food allergies are distracting and detrimental to your quality of life. While there is no cure for food allergies, there are measures you can take to avoid experiencing allergy symptoms. Do not worry about approaching your allergies unprepared! The following are some tips you can use to build your allergy action plan.

Managing your food allergies means being aware of what is in your food. Here’s how you can avoid food allergies not just during Food Allergy Action month, but for every month: 

  • Read the labels on your food prior to consumption- While reading the labels on your food, ensure you look at the “contains” statement. This section identifies in simple terms the most common foods that people are allergic to. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology additionally advises you to view the ingredients list to ensure the food is safe for your consumption. 
  • When eating out, ask your server about possible allergens in your food- Eating out can be tricky if you have a food allergy. When you are dining out, you should inform your waiter of any food allergies you may have. While ordering, ask about the ingredients of the dish you are interested in, as well as how the dish is prepared to avoid cross contamination with your allergens. The Anaphylaxis Campaign has several tips you can follow for more advice about eating out with a food allergy. 
  • Oral Medication- Depending on the severity of your food allergy, Dr. Robert Otte may prescribe an oral medication such as an antihistamine or an epinephrine. Antihistamines prevent the effects of chemicals called histamines that contribute to allergy symptoms. Epinephrine is a useful treatment option for people who may experience anaphylaxis. Epinephrine keeps your blood pressure high and relaxes your airways while you are experiencing an allergic reaction.   
  • Visit an allergist- To learn more about your allergy and how to treat it, visit experienced allergy and immunology specialist Dr. Robert Otte. Dr. Otte can perform a variety of tests to determine your specific allergy, recommend individualized treatment options, and help you create a plan to manage your symptoms. 

Looking for an allergist near you? Allergy and immunology specialist Dr. Robert Otte is experienced in providing asthma and allergy care to adult and pediatric-age patients. Dr. Otte will provide you with advanced treatment and health management skills to relieve your allergy symptoms and improve your quality of life. Don’t allow your allergies to bring you down! Patients can be seen in our Penn Hills and North Versailles locations to receive testing, treatment options, and immunotherapy options. Call us to schedule an appointment with us today, or call (412)-243-1945 for more information.