The most common food allergies are pretty easy to identify. Between 50% and 90% of all allergic reactions can be traced to one group of foods, commonly called the “big eight”. These are the foods that trigger allergies most frequently in children and adults. Some of these allergies can be outgrown others will usually last for a lifetime.
For children, the biggest culprits are milk and eggs. Milk is the most common allergy trigger for children and milk allergies will usually manifest during infancy. Egg allergies can also start quite early and can stem from a very unusual source: your child’s immunizations. Many immunizations are created by growing viruses in hen’s eggs, and therefore traces of egg can be present in the resulting medication. You should check with your doctor before getting your child immunized if allergies are a concern.
Fortunately, milk and egg allergies are also the most temporary of all allergies, with at least 80% of children eventually outgrowing their allergy by age six. Another of the most common food allergies is peanuts. Peanut allergies can affect both children and adults and are much more likely to be permanent. They are also among the most dangerous, with the greatest likelihood of causing anaphylaxis.
For adults, the main culprits for food allergies are quite different. The most common allergens for adults are shellfish and other fish. Shellfish allergies are more likely to develop later in life and they can be just as deadly as peanut allergies, with severe symptoms including anaphylaxis. Shellfish allergies can be triggered quite easily, even breathing in fumes from cooking food can set off an attack.
For adults, other types of fish may also be among the most common food allergies. These can also be severe and may be triggered by cross-contamination in restaurants or food processing plants where different kinds of foods are prepared in the same location. It is particularly important for allergic individuals to take extra precautions when eating out. Don’t be afraid to ask about food content and preparation methods.
Other common food allergies include Soy, Tree Nuts and Wheat. These are all more common among children than adults. Most children will outgrow soy and wheat allergies, but few completely outgrow allergies to tree nuts. Again, exposure to these particular allergens can come in many forms aside from food products themselves. Everything from shampoos and body lotions to some toys can contain these particular ingredients, making allergies hard to avoid.
Fortunately for allergy sufferers, the U.S. has put stringent laws into effect requiring all food manufacturers to clearly label their products if they contain possible allergens. In order to avoid exposure, you need to pay close attention to all food labels and always be on the lookout for the most common food allergies.
Food allergies are a fact of life for many adults and children, but they don’t have to keep you from enjoying yourself. With the proper precautions, it is possible to avoid allergens and live a rich and healthy life.