Food allergies are more common now than they once were. In fact, the prevalence of food allergy increased by 18 percent between the years of 1997 and 2007, according to the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, and an estimated four percent of adults in the U.S. currently have one. Most frequently, food allergies emerge in childhood, but  it’s possible for one to start at any age, causing a sudden allergic reaction that could be deadly.

Most Common Adult Food Allergens:

  • Fish and shellfish (including crab, lobster, shrimp)
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (including almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts)
  • Eggs

An allergic reaction to a food allergen can occur minutes or up to two hours after the allergen was consumed, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Common Symptoms Of Allergic Reactions To Food:

  • Itching in your mouth
  • Swelling in the face, lips, throat, and tongue
  • Abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting
  • Hives or eczema
  • Throat tightening
  • Trouble breathing

Tests That Can Confirm A Food Allergy:

Skin Test

With this test, one or more food extracts are used to prick the skin to see whether the body makes an antibody, and if itching, redness, or swelling result. This test is not 100 percent accurate and alone cannot diagnose a food allergy. But, positive test results can support a diagnosis.

Radioallergosorbent Test (RAST)

With this test, your blood is tested at a lab and a sample of your blood is analyzed to see whether antibodies to a specific food are present. Overall it is considered less reliable and sensitive than the skin test.

Oral Food Challenge

Considered by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America to be the most reliable test, this must only be administered by a specialist physician in an environment where allergic reactions could be rapidly treated if needed.

Elimination Diet

If after other testing, doctors remain unsure of the diagnosis, they may suggest an elimination diet. This involves tracking your normal diet and noting any food reactions over 10 to 14 days. Then, based on this intel, your doctor will have you cut the suspected food allergen, and any food containing it, from your diet for 10 to 14 days.

Food allergies shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you suspect you may be having allergic reactions to food, consult with your doctor and, if needed, ask for a referral to an allergy expert.

 Do You know anyone who discovered a food allergy as an adult ?