Millions of Americans experience allergic reactions to food every year, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The most common food offenders among adults include seafood, nuts and eggs. Consuming these foods can produce an array of symptoms, which may differ from person to person. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a food allergy can help you avoid bothersome side effects and health complications.
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Food allergies occur when your body perceives a certain food as a foreign invader and a potentially dangerous substance. In an effort to protect your body from the food culprit, your immune system overreacts and produces allergic symptoms. These symptoms are generally mild and can appear anywhere from minutes to two hours after you consume the allergic food.
Dry Skin and Hair Loss
Common skin symptoms of food allergies include hives, itching and eczema, an anti-inflammatory skin condition that produces flaky, scaly or severely reddened skin. Food allergies are not likely to cause hair loss in humans, although it is a common symptom among allergic pets, namely dogs whose excessive chewing on itchy skin results in bald patches and hot spots.
Because no cures exist for food allergies, the best way to avoid reactions is to eliminate the offending foods from your diet. In some cases, however, a person may unknowingly ingest an allergic food. When this happens, a doctor might prescribe antihistamines to treat symptoms. If a severe allergic reaction occurs, an emergency injection of epinephrine, a naturally occurring hormone, helps relax the airways and reduces tightening in the blood vessels. Follow-up treatment is essential after an epinephrine injection.
Although allergic reactions are generally mild, some individuals experience a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. This severe multisymptom response can cause shortness of breath, tightness in the throat and chest, rapid pulse and dizziness. Some people lose consciousness and die as a result. Seek immediate emergency medical treatment if these symptoms arise.