When people find out I have a food allergy, the number one question I here next is, “So what happens when you eat it?” For me it really varies, but thankfully none of them are extremely severe.
First – a little FYI – the severity of an allergy does not necessarily predict the severity of a reaction. When an allergy is ranked (usually by an allergist) on severity level, this only indicates how likely the person will react to the allergen. Even the tiniest trace of an allergen will cause a reaction in a person with extremely severe allergies, although that reaction may not be life-threatening every time. In contrast, a person with a low-to-moderate allergy only reacts when a larger amount of the allergen is present, but this does not necessarily mean that the reaction will be minor.
Corn: My blood test ranked it as “moderate-severe.” I tend to have my most scariest reactions with this, and sometimes I can’t determine the source. Usually my reactions to trace amounts of corn include immediate itchy face and nose, nasal congestion, intestinal upset, a drop in blood pressure (feeling that I’m going to pass out), itchy hands and feet, and hives. Typically my hives show up around my eyes and on my hands. I may or may not vomit a few hours later and I almost always feel like I have the flu or a terrible hangover the next day.
Soy: My allergist ranked this one as moderate. I have never had a super-scary reaction to soy, but I will always get hives on the inside of my upper arms as well as intestinal upset for days and lingering joint pain.
Gluten/Wheat: This is a me-diagnosed intolerance and I use the drop-in-the-bucket analogy for it. My level of digestive discomfort directly correlates to the amount of gluten I have in my system. I can handle a bite here or there, but the more I eat it, the more I begin to feel (and see) the effects in my stomach and digestive tract.
Obviously different people are going have different food allergy and intolerance symptoms. I have another post here regarding the difference between an allergy vs. an intolerance. According to www.foodallergy.org, the most common allergy symptoms are:
Severe symptoms may include one or more of the following:
- Obstructive swelling of the lips, tongue, and/or throat
- Trouble swallowing
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
- Turning blue
- Drop in blood pressure (feeling faint, confused, weak, passing out)
- Loss of consciousness
- Chest pain
- A weak or “thread” pulse
- Sense of “impending doom”
Mild symptoms may include one or more of the following:
- Hives (reddish, swollen, itchy areas on the skin)
- Eczema (a persistent dry, itchy rash)
- Redness of the skin or around the eyes
- Itchy mouth or ear canal
- Nausea or vomiting
- Stomach pain
- Nasal congestion or a runny nose
- Slight, dry cough
- Odd taste in mouth
- Uterine contractions
I am so very thankful that I don’t have any extremely severe food allergies. I have read case after case of people who have life threatening reactions to the tiniest traces (such as from the lining of canned veggies or traces of corn in personal products). In the past 6 years since my onset of allergies, I am grateful to have never had to use my epi-pen and am also so very grateful that my children to not have any life-altering allergies. What are your experiences and symptoms in yourself or a loved one?