A food allergy will often appear in childhood, and the National Institutes of Health estimates that one out of every 12 children will experience an allergic reaction to food. Allergies may dissipate with age, but many adults have food allergies as well. Although certain foods, such as peanuts and milk, have a higher incidence of reaction, a person can have a reaction to any food, including sweet potatoes. Knowing the symptoms of an allergy will help you seek prompt medical care.
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If you experience an allergic reaction to sweet potatoes or any other food, the reaction will typically occur within a short time after consuming the potato. Your symptoms may vary, but you could experience one or more of the following: facial swelling, tongue inflammation, skin rash, itching or abdominal pain. You may also have nausea and vomiting. In severe reactions, the tissues in your throat may begin to swell, and this could result in problems breathing. If the inflamed tissues close off your airway, you will not have a way to breathe, and this could result in death if you do not receive prompt treatment.
Minor allergic reactions will often resolve with the use of over-the-counter products, such as antihistamines. These medications will counteract the histamine reaction causing your symptoms. If you have a severe reaction you may require treatment in an emergency care facility. The doctor can inject epinephrine, a drug that will quickly combat the reaction and open your airway. If you have a history of severe reactions your doctor may prescribe an epinephrine kit that you have at all times -- so you can give yourself an injection if you consume the food, which will prevent a serious, life-threatening reaction.
Sweet potatoes have a distinct orange color that you can identify easily. However, eating away from home and not having control over what your food comes in contact with may prove more difficult than visually identifying a sweet potato. If you eat in a restaurant, talk to the server about your allergies. In most cases, a chef will take extra care to keep your food away from any sweet potato items. Talk to your friends when they invite you to dinner and let them know you have a food allergy -- this will help prevent sweet potatoes from showing up on your plate.
Talk to your doctor if you have symptoms of a food allergy. If you do not know if a particular food caused your symptoms your doctor may recommend that you have skin tests that will determine your particular allergens. In many cases, if you have an allergy to one food, you may have a reaction to others, and knowing all of your allergy sources will help protect you from future reactions.