Every year, millions of Americans suffer allergic reactions to food, with some experiencing life-threatening symptoms, such as anaphylactic shock. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about two in ten adults and 4 to 8 percent of children are allergic to some type of food. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know which foods cause problems without trying them. That said, you can better prepare yourself for potential problems by becoming aware of the most common culprits.
- Eggs: Many children demonstrate an allergy to eggs, but ultimately outgrow it. Used in a wide array of different products, eggs may be labeled “albumin” or “egg white.”
- Peanuts: Research indicates that 20 percent of children with peanut allergies ultimately outgrow them; however, those who don’t tend to develop severe reactions that worsen in time. Because peanuts are found in a broad variety of foods, it’s important for at-risk people to carry epinephrine if prescribed.
- Shellfish: A relatively common allergen, shellfish is a broad category, consisting of shrimp, crabs, prawns, crayfish, lobsters, squid, mussels and oysters.
- Fish: Some people are allergic to “bony” and “scaly” fish, such as salmon, trout, mackerel, halibut, sprat, herring, haddock and cod. These allergies can be especially life-threatening, so it’s important to seek medical attention if you show signs of a reaction.
- Tree nuts: These include re-flavored peanuts soaked in pecan, walnut or almond flavoring. Often used in crackers, cereals, barbecue and ice cream, tree nuts are used in a variety of products, so it’s important to be on the lookout if you’re allergic.
- Soy: Because they’re used in so many different types of processed foods, soybeans are difficult to avoid. You may need to consult a dietician or doctor to create a balanced diet free of soy.
- Wheat: Some people’s immune systems react aggressively to specific proteins found in wheat. Be sure to check food labels for ingredients such as flour, wheat germ, bran, wheat starch, graham flour, modified food starch, semolina, spelt and farina.
All combined, food allergies cause approximately 150 deaths, 2,000 hospitalizations and 30,000 cases of anaphylaxis every year. If you’re having trouble avoiding problematic foods, talk with your doctor or schedule an appointment with a dietician to see if you can create a tailored menu that’s delicious and safe.