5 Most Common Food Allergies

common food allergies

Having a food allergy is extremely common in children and adults. The most common food allergies affect about 11% of US individuals. Keep reading to learn more about these food allergens, the symptoms to look out for, and what you can do about it.

Common Food Allergies

First, it’s important to establish the difference between a food allergy and food intolerance. A food intolerance is a high sensitivity to specific foods that can cause negative reactions to the digestive, skin, and respiratory systems. These symptoms include bloating, gas, diarrhea, nausea, etc. 

A food allergy is an autoimmune issue caused by your immune system recognizing some of the proteins in a particular food as dangerous. Your body usually responds with an allergic reaction or inflammation of some sort.

These are the two different types of food allergies:

  • Immunoglobulin E (lgE) mediated: Your immune system makes lgE antibodies to fight off the food allergen. A reaction from this food allergy tends to occur within hours of digesting the food with mild to severe symptoms.
  • Non-lgE mediated: With this reaction, your immune system does not create lgE antibodies to fight infection. The response tends to last up to three days after eating the allergen. The symptoms involve digestive issues, such as vomiting or diarrhea, and skin reactions.

Here are the five most common food allergies:

  1. Cow’s milk

The top food allergen is cow’s milk. It is especially common in babies and young children. It’s less likely to find adults with a cow’s milk allergy because 90% of people grow out of the allergy by age three. Whether it is a lgE or non-lgE allergy, people should avoid any food containing cow’s milk including:

  • Milk powder
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Ice Cream
  • Yogurt

Luckily, there are many cow’s milk alternatives for people with an allergy or lactose intolerance.

  1. Eggs

The second most common food allergy in children is eggs. Similar to cow’s milk, there is a high likelihood that the allergy will go away as the children grow up; about 68% of people outgrow an egg allergy by age sixteen. 

An egg allergy doesn’t necessarily mean you have to live an egg-free lifestyle. There is a chance that one may be allergic to just egg whites, and not the yolk, or vice versa. Also, when eggs are cooked, sometimes the allergy-causing protein no longer sparks a reaction for individuals. Consult a gastroenterologist to find out if you fall under this category of an egg allergy. 

  1. Peanuts

Peanut allergies are prevalent in adults and children. According to Healthline, about 1-3% of children and 2% of adults are affected by a peanut allergy. Although many people allergic to peanuts also have a tree nut allergy, they are not the same thing. Tree nuts consist of macadamia nuts, cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts, pistachios, pine nuts, and walnuts. 

If you are allergic to peanuts, you should avoid them entirely. An allergic reaction to peanuts can be severe or potentially fatal.  

  1. Shellfish

A shellfish allergy doesn’t equate to a seafood allergy. Shellfish includes:

  • Lobster
  • Shrimp
  • Crab
  • Scallops
  • Mussells

This type of allergy is specific to fish from the crustaceans and mollusk groups. Shellfish allergies are not very likely to resolve on their own, so people with this food allergy usually have it for life. 

  1. Wheat

A wheat allergy is often confused with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. A wheat allergy is an adverse reaction to any of the proteins within wheat, while celiac disease is specific to gluten. This food allergy affects children and adults, primarily children. For those with a wheat allergy, doctors recommend avoiding all wheat products, including beauty and cosmetic products.

Food Allergy Symptoms

The symptoms of common food allergies tend to be similar regardless of the allergen. Some consistent symptoms are: 

  • Swelling of the tongue, mouth, or face
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Itchiness
  • Skin rash

Some symptoms of common food allergies are more severe than others. In some instances, the allergen can cause anaphylaxis, almost immediate response that combines many of the symptoms listed above (swelling, difficulty breathing, hives, etc.)

Living with Food Allergies

The most effective solution for living with a food allergy is eliminating the allergen from your diet and any food containing it. Thankfully, there are many food alternatives available that allow you to keep a less restrictive lifestyle. If you need further guidance on common food allergies or how to diagnose an allergy, contact Wake Endoscopy Center at (919) 783-4888.