Signs and Symptoms of Food Allergy

in Basics, Food Allergy

Do you sometimes feel sick to your stomach not long after eating? Have you noticed a pattern in the types of food you eat when this occurs? Perhaps you have experienced unexplained skin rashes (known as hives) or vomiting or diarrhea?

Does your child refuse to eat a certain food, or complain that it makes his “tongue hurt”? These could be signs of a food allergy, and should be taken seriously.

It is common for the symptoms of food allergy to vary by individual – and from reaction to reaction in the same person. Not everyone will get all the symptoms, which range greatly in severity from mild to severe (and even fatal): your throat may feel tight on one exposure to your allergen or you may get itchy hives on your skin and vomiting with the next.

The Range of Symptoms
  • Tingling in the mouth
  • Swelling of the tongue and throat / feeling of throat tightness
  • Itchy skin, hives or skin redness
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Breathing difficulty, wheezing
  • Faintness due to a sudden drop in blood pressure

Anaphylaxis is the severe form of allergic reaction. It involves one or more of the body’s symptoms; for example, the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory tract, the skin and the cardiovascular system. A person experiencing anaphylaxis often has difficulty breathing, and the person could lose consciousness. Anaphylaxis puts a person at risk of death.

Anaphylactic reactions can come on quickly, and it’s impossible to know when a reaction will become severe. It’s important that people with food allergies are prepared for a reaction by always carrying an epinephrine auto-injector.

Experts recommend using epinephrine early if a person known to be at risk of anaphylaxis begins to show signs of allergy symptoms – don’t wait until the symptoms worsen, as it may become to difficult put a halt to the reaction once it’s in progress.

Symptoms reviewed by Dr. Susan Waserman