If you often start to sneeze and have a runny nose after a meal, you may have food allergies. A food allergy can cause annoying symptoms in some people, but it can have serious consequences for others. Contact a medical professional if you suspect that you are sneezing and your nose is running because of food allergies.
Background on Food Allergies
An allergic reaction occurs when your body mounts an immune response to something that it identifies as harmful. In an allergic reaction to food, your immune system attacks certain proteins in foods, according to MayoClinic.com. The most common foods that cause allergic reactions are peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish and eggs. Children may be allergic to milk and wheat, too. Your runny nose and sneezing from food allergies are most likely to occur after you eat one of those foods.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Symptoms of a food allergy may include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, a runny nose, hives and wheezing. You will notice these symptoms shortly after a meal, according to Medline Plus. To diagnose a food allergy, you need to tell your doctor about your symptoms and rule out other causes. For example, symptoms of food intolerances, such as to lactose in milk or gluten in wheat, can be similar to allergy symptoms. Tests for food allergies may include elimination diets, blood tests or skin tests.
Treatment and Prevention
Food allergies are usually mild, and you do not need medical treatment if you only have sneezing and a runny nose after eating. Severe allergic reactions can lead to anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal, according to Medline Plus. Epinephrine is the treatment for anaphylaxis. The only way to prevent allergic reactions from food allergies is to avoid the food or foods that trigger them. A doctor can help you determine which foods trigger your sneezing and runny nose.
Pollen-food allergy syndrome, or oral food allergy syndrome, can cause sneezing and a runny nose when you eat certain foods even if you are not usually allergic to them. According to MayoClinic.com, the condition occurs when you are allergic to pollens or grasses and you have an allergic reaction to specific foods with similar proteins. For example, people who are allergic to birch pollen may have symptoms of allergies when they eat potatoes, hazelnuts, celery and some kinds of fruit.