5 Food Allergy Facts you Should Know

There’s a good chance that someone close to you deals with a food allergy, if it isn’t you. It might be a child in your life — the number of children with food allergies increased by about 50% between 1997 and 2011.

Food allergies are pretty serious — there are over 200,000 food allergy-related emergency department visits every year. If anyone around you lives with a food allergy- and it’s likely that someone does- you should have some basic understanding of food allergies.

The more you know, the better you can prevent a reaction and offer help in case of an emergency.

Arm yourself with these 5 food allergy facts:food allergy fork

1. Food allergy reactions don’t have a timeline

In the movies, one bite of peanut butter sends our poor main character into an itchy, red-faced allergic reaction. Some allergic reactions happen this fast, but others take time to appear. A reaction might take a few minutes, a few hours, or even a full day.

Since you can’t assume the food you just ate caused a reaction, it’s best to get clear results from a food allergy test.

2. Age is a factor

Food allergy symptoms change with age. A young child may have extreme reactions to a certain group of foods, but with time they might outgrow their food allergies. While most children outgrow allergies, some food allergies stick with them. Nut and shellfish allergies are more common to stay around as children age.

3. Severity varies

No two allergic reactions are the same. Some people have extreme reactions, while others may only have a small rash or itchy mouth. Since small reactions are easier to brush off, it’s important to pay attention and follow up with food allergy testing. A periodic rash may be more than just a common occasion for a young child.

4. Anaphylaxis may be drawn out

Signs of anaphylaxis indicate a seriously risky situation. Epinephrine is the first method of defense after a food allergy, but the symptoms of anaphylaxis may decline after first appearing. Experts recommend observing the patient for about four hours after the reaction to make sure the symptoms have truly subsided.

5. Dose matters

Food allergies are often dependent on the size of food consumed. That means that a teaspoon of one food may be fine, but a couple of tablespoons can trigger a serious reaction.

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