- Food allergies aren’t always obvious but they’re worth taking seriously – especially since some of them can be life-threatening.
- Hives, coughing, and itching of the throat are all signs of an allergy.
- You could have a food allergy if you’re experiencing pain swallowing certain foods.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
Food allergies can be tricky to detect. In many cases, they are severe enough that you’ll know the hard way if you have one, but some allergies may not be as clear.
Dr. David Cutler, a family medicine physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, explained that although not all allergies are severe, it’s important to keep a watchful eye on any warning signs that suggest that you may be dealing with food allergies of any kind.
From hives to swelling of the throat, below are some signs that you may have a food allergy.
It’s worth noting that this is just a general outline of symptoms and that you should always speak with your healthcare provider to get a proper diagnosis.
You may experience hives
Itchy rashes and hives are some of the biggest signs of a food allergy, according to Dr. Clare Morrison, a medical advisor at Medexpress.
If you do experience hives, asking your doctor about an elimination diet can help you find out what food or food group is triggering you.
“Let’s say you’re not eating any of the hives foods and then you add back shellfish and you get the hives again. Then you can pretty much figure it out,” Dr. Debra Jaliman, a New York City-based dermatologist and the author of “Skin Rules,” told Health.
You may have itching and swelling in the mouth and throat
“Itching and swelling in the mouth and throat is particularly worrying,” Morrison told INSIDER. This is caused by the immune system reacting to proteins that are similar to those found in pollen such as fruits and nuts, she said.
According to Harvard Medical School, this is typically classified as an oral food allergy and is considered mild. Of course, if this turns severe or is coupled with other symptoms, seek help right away.
Wheezing, coughing, and experiencing shortness of breath are other symptoms to look out for
As VeryWell Health noted, being slightly short of breath when eating can have many different causes, one of which is a food allergy. But this can also be one of the first signs of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening. If you’re feeling short of breath, especially when you’re eating certain foods, it’s best to speak with a doctor about it.
You’re experiencing unusual reactions after taking just one bite of something
Food allergies can be trigger by even a small amount of the food you’re allergic to, said registered dietitian Staci Gulbin. If you’re experiencing symptoms after simply taking a bite, that’s a pretty good sign that what you’re experiencing is a food allergy rather than simply an intolerance.
You are experiencing pain when you swallow
“Less obvious symptoms include difficulty swallowing, painful swallowing, or sensation of food sticking in the chest,” said Dr. Omid Mehdizadeh, an otolaryngologist (ENT) and laryngologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
This is due to the allergic response within the esophagus or swallowing tube, he explained. He said that this type of food allergy is called eosinophilic esophagitis and it usually develops in childhood though it can present later on in life.
You have gastrointestinal distress
Dr. Sujan Patel, assistant professor of infectious disease and immunology and pediatrics at NYU Langone Medical Center, told Prevention magazine that like food intolerances, food allergies can cause gastrointestinal issues like nausea and vomiting. Unlike an intolerance, though, these symptoms may be more severe and accompanied by others on this list when you have an allergy.
You suddenly experience these symptoms, even as an adult
Though most food allergies develop while you’re a child, adult allergies are possible, so if you’re suddenly experiencing these symptoms, it could be a sign of an allergy.
“It’s possible to develop an adult-onset allergy,” said Dr. Janette Nesheiwat, who specializes in family and emergency medicine. “This means you may not have had allergies to something in the past (like shellfish), but it can happen later in life and the exact reason is unclear.”
It’s worth noting that many people may think they have an allergy though they actually have an intolerance
All of this in mind, food allergies are classified by a reaction by your immune system and allergies are generally life-threatening. Intolerances, which are often mistaken for allergies and are much more common, may simply cause gastrointestinal distress, per Cleveland Clinic.
As always, it’s best to speak with your doctor for an individual diagnosis especially if you are uncertain if you are dealing with an intolerance or allergy.