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Food Allergy Mystery—Now You Have One, Now You Don’t

Photo credit: iStock/piotr_malczk

Photo credit: iStock/piotr_malczk

It’s tough to enjoy trick or treating when even the slightest trace of a Reese’s Cup makes your mouth start to itch. But as any mom, or person with a peanut allergy will tell you, when certain candies cue wheezing, chest tightening, tingling, hoarseness, with a lump in your throat there’s nothing sweet about Halloween.

But peanuts aren’t the only culprit that can cause this type of reaction in children and adults. If certain foods–even those without nuts–make your throat itch and chest tighten, you could have a food allergy. And you wouldn’t be alone, researchers estimate nearly 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies.

Food allergies can make themselves known no matter what age you are. In fact, it’s not unusual for an adult who has eaten shellfish their whole life to suddenly feel their throat tighten after eating a seafood tower. This can be a very scary and unusual experience if you’ve never experienced a food allergy before. Don’t write off the reaction as a one-time thing! It’s important to identify what exactly caused your reaction to help avoid it again.

Luckily, with a 20-minute (needleless) skin test from a doctor, like the board-certified allergists specially trained in treating food allergic patients at Allergy & Asthma Specialists, you will finally be able to pinpoint which foods trigger your adverse reactions and treat them accordingly.

Milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish and tree nuts are all sneaky ingredients that can find their way to your food–even the ones you’re least expecting. All it takes is a trace amount of these ingredients, sometimes disguised by their chemical names, to trigger an allergic reaction.

That means if you have a milk allergy, you’re also dodging ingredients like whey, butter, casein, lactose, cheese and cream, among others. Most labels will note if a food “CONTAINS MILK” or “CONTAINS EGG” but some foods and products that are not covered by the FDA can choose to leave this important indicator off their packaging.

While peanut, tree nut, shellfish and fish allergies could be lifelong, cow’s milk, egg and soy allergies are typically outgrown. However, even though most children typically outgrow milk, egg and soy allergies, their skin tests may still remain positive.

In these cases, the allergists at Allergy & Asthma Specialists may recommend an “oral food challenge” to see if the allergy still exists and if so which specific ingredient causes a reaction to occur. In a closely monitored environment with doctors on hand, you’ll taste the foods (in gradually increasing amounts) that might have previously caused an allergic reaction. If no reaction occurs, you’ll be cleared to test out all the candy you want this Halloween.
To schedule an appointment at a location near you, call 1-800-86COUGH or visit Allergy & Asthma Specialists’ website today.