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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    These Nine Common Foods Cause Most Allergic Reactions

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      These common foods trigger about 90% of all food allergic reactions in people.


    Caption: Image: CC--NIAID

    Celiac.com 09/06/2018 - What are the most common foods that can trigger allergic reactions in people? 

    First, and it's important to be clear about this, a food allergy is not to be confused with a food sensitivity. Food sensitivities are common and usually harmless, if sometimes uncomfortable. Food sensitivity can cause symptoms like gas, bloating, stomach upset, indigestion, and the like when some people eat certain foods. 

    A food allergy, on the other hand, is an immune reaction that happens when the body mistakes harmless food, a peanut for example, for something that could make you sick. When you eat a food you're allergic to, your immune system thinks you’re body is being harmed, and reacts to protect you from that harm. This reaction can be as mild as a light skin rash or red, itchy eyes, or it could be serious enough to cause difficulty breathing, swelling, pain, shock and even death. An allergic reaction can happen very soon after eating an allergenic food, or it can happen many hours later. Either way, food allergies are potentially serious, and should be treated as such.

    According to WebMD, these nine foods account for about 90% of all food allergies:

    1. Peanuts
    2. Tree nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, brazil nuts, and pecans
    3. Soy
    4. Milk
    5. Eggs
    6. Wheat, barley, and rye—Celiac disease
    7. Oats
    8. Fish
    9. Shellfish

    Mild symptoms of a food allergy reaction include:

    • Red, swollen, dry, or itchy skin and rash (hives or eczema)
    • Runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, or a slight, dry cough
    • Itchy, watery, red eyes
    • Itchy mouth or inside your ear
    • Funny taste in your mouth
    • Upset stomach, cramps, vomiting, or diarrhea

    Though any of these foods can cause an allergic reaction, peanuts, nuts, fish, and shellfish are well known for causing severe allergic reactions. 

    Symptoms of a sever allergic reaction to food include:

    • Trouble breathing or swallowing
    • Swollen lips, tongue, or throat
    • Feeling weak, confused, or light-headed, or passing out
    • Chest pain or a weak, uneven heartbeat

    If you suspect that you or someone you know is having an allergic reaction to food, especially a severe reaction, definitely seek medical attention immediately.


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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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