Food allergies are estimated to affect 4 to 6 percent of children and 4 percent of adults.
Food allergy symptoms are most common in babies and children, but they can appear at any age. You can even develop an allergy to foods you have eaten for years with no problems.
Symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe. You cannot predict how severe a reaction will be. It’s possible that a severe reaction can occur to a food that only caused a mild or no reaction earlier.
The most severe allergic reaction is anaphylaxis— a life-threatening, whole-body allergic reaction that can affect your breathing, cause a drop in blood pressure and affect your heart rate. Anaphylaxis can come on within minutes of exposure to the trigger food. It can cause death and must be treated promptly with an injection of epinephrine (adrenaline).
While any food can cause a reaction, eight types of food account for about 90 percent of all food allergies:
Particularly in Infants and Young Children:
Particularly in Adults and some Children:
• Tree nuts
Many of these food allergens may be found in commercially produced and processed foods. It is critically important to know for sure which food is responsible for the reaction, and to know whether the reaction is indeed allergic or if it is an intolerance which cannot result in anaphylaxis.
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