Common Conditions

Food Allergies: Signs and Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction

One person is sent to the emergency room in the U.S. every three minutes due to a food allergy reaction. The symptoms of a food allergy usually appear in just 3 minutes after consuming the food to which you are allergic. An allergic reaction typically affects the skin, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, and the cardiovascular system in the most severe cases.

The allergic reactions often vary from mild to severe and can also lead to a potentially life-threatening condition like anaphylaxis.

Usually, the reactions are unpredictable. The first symptoms might be mild but it can worsen suddenly. Furthermore, what might have caused a mild reaction once can cause a serious reaction the next time. Also, remember that children might show the symptoms differently than adults.


Food allergies are caused when your immune system mistakenly identifies specific food as something harmful. When you consume such substances, your immune system releases an antibody known as immunoglobulin E (IgE) to neutralize the allergen or the allergy-causing food.

Therefore, the next time you consume the same food, no matter how small the amount is, IgE antibodies signal your immune system and release various chemicals and histamine into your bloodstream. Histamine along with the other chemicals is what causes the symptoms associated with food allergies.

When it comes to adults, certain proteins present in foods are what triggers food allergies. Proteins found in foods such as shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts and fish are commonly causing allergies in adults.

Whereas in children, the proteins in the following foods cause food allergies: peanuts, eggs, wheat, soy, tree nuts, and cow's milk.

Furthermore, food intolerance can also cause symptoms of food allergies like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea etc. Based on the type of food intolerance you suffer from, you might be able to consume small amounts of the intolerant food without showing any reaction. Nonetheless, if you have a true food allergy, even a small amount of the food can trigger an allergic reaction.


In the case of some people, an allergic reaction might be uncomfortable and not severe. On the other hand, for others, food allergies can be life-threatening. Sign of food allergies usually surfaces within a few minutes to two hours after consuming the specific food.

The mild symptoms associated with food allergies include:

·        Reddish, itchy areas on the skin

·        Eczema

·        Redness around the eyes or mouth

·        Itchy mouth or ear canal

·        Nausea

·        Vomiting

·        Diarrhea

·        Stomach pain

·        Runny nose

·        Sneezing

·        Dry cough

·        Odd taste in the mouth

The serious symptoms of food allergies include:

·        Swelling of lips, tongue, and throat that cause difficulty breathing

·        Shortness of breath

·        Drop in blood pressure

·        Chest Pain

·        Skin turning blue

·        Unconsciousness

·        Weak pulse

·        The sense of impending doom

The serious symptoms can occur alone or accompanied by milder symptoms. When this occurs, it might also be an indicator of anaphylaxis which is a life-threatening condition. This requires immediate care and treatment.

Epinephrine is typically the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis. A delay in administering epinephrine can lead to persistent symptoms which is dangerous to life. Thus, it is important that you carry a medical alert bracelet or an auto-injector device containing epinephrine for accidental exposures.

Nevertheless, when you suffer from a sudden food allergy you need to quickly consult a qualified medical professional or a board-certified allergist like the professionals we have here at BASS Advanced Urgent Care. Reach out to us during emergencies to avoid waiting long hours to get an appointment with your doctor.