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How to Tell If You Have Food Allergies

May 14, 2013

If you have food allergies, you might not even know it. You could be attributing your food allergies to other common ailments, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or seasonal allergies. Food allergies can cause many unpleasant symptoms, ranging from abdominal cramping to hives to anaphylactic shock. If you have undiagnosed symptoms or you think you might be experiencing food allergies, you should talk to your physician so he can properly evaluate you and your symptoms. Here are some ways to tell if you have food allergies:

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Symptoms after Eating

Symptoms of food allergies usually begin to present approximately 30 minutes or less after ingesting the food you are allergic to. Symptoms of food allergies also tend to occur in clusters depending on the particular food you are allergic to. Usually people with food allergies experience two or more symptoms. Common food allergy symptoms include anaphylactic shock, hives (or other rashes), swelling in the lips or face, stomach ache, constipation or heartburn. In some individuals, allergic symptoms from food are brought on or made worse with exercise.

Common Food Allergies

If you have a food allergy, it is likely an allergy to shellfish, peanuts, 

 fish, eggs or pine nuts. Specifically, you might be allergic to a protein called tropomyosin, which is similar in these foods. Tropomyosin is also present in dust, so if you are allergic to dust, you are more likely to have a reaction from eating seafood. Some people are allergic to casein, the protein found in cow, human and goat milk. Other people are allergic to the additives or preservatives prevalent in processed foods such as dyes and thickeners.


Removing the Food

Many doctors will remove certain foods from your diet to see if that particular food is causing your allergic symptoms. He will probably ask you to keep a food diary of what you eat and how you feel after eating it. This sounds easy, but you shouldn't try to change your diet without consulting your doctor since you could be removing too many foods from your diet, which could also cause problems or mimic the symptoms of your food allergies.

Diagnostic Tests

In order to find out if you are allergic to certain foods, you should be evaluated by an Allergist, who specializes in treating allergies to foods. There are various tests which the Allergist can perform to  track down the specific food or foods causing you problems. The most common test for food allergies is a skin test, where an allergen is placed on the skin, then the skin is observed to see if a reaction occurs. Allergists also perform blood tests called RAST tests, which examine the antibodies you produce in response to certain foods.

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