Food allergies can cause a wide range of symptoms. These usually begin just minutes after eating the problem food. Sometimes, however, symptoms may appear a few hours after eating.
Food allergy symptoms include:
- rash or hives
- red or itchy skin
- stuffy or itchy nose
- itchy and watery eyes
- vomiting, stomach cramps, gas, or diarrhea
- swelling of the lips, mouth lining, or area around the eyes that can be itchy or painful
Milder food allergy symptoms can often be treated with prescription or over-the-counter antihistamines.
If symptoms become more severe, you should seek emergency care immediately. These may be signs of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening situation that can lead to coma or death if left untreated.
You should seek emergency treatment immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- hoarseness, throat tightness, or a lump in the throat
- wheezing or difficulty breathing
- chest tightness
- tingling in the hands, feet, lips, or scalp
- dizziness, fainting, or a sudden drop in blood pressure
- racing pulse
If you have been prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector, you may need to use it if you begin to experience severe symptoms. Consider keeping this medication in your purse, briefcase, and/or work desk. Also, train friends and family on how to give the medication should you become unable to do so.
You should still seek emergency medical care after giving yourself an injection. If your reaction is especially severe, you may need further treatment. Getting to an emergency room as quickly as possible after an allergic reaction can help reduce your risk for adverse complications.
According to the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology (AAAAI), those with asthma, those who have a family history of anaphylaxis, and those who have had a past episode are at greater risk for this severe reaction.