Although a food allergy rarely constitutes a serious, life-threatening concern, it results in chronic illness for many sufferers. This problem can be significantly eliminated if one is alert to the most common allergens and the manifestations of allergic reactions.
The allergen in cow’s milk is probably the most common. A susceptible person may be allergic to the whole, skimmed, evaporated, or dried milk, as well as to milk-containing products such as ice cream, cheese, custard, cream, and creamed foods, and yogurt. Milk allergy can range from a mild to a severe stage. As a result, for those with a more severe form of milk allergy, even butter and bread can create a reaction. Symptoms can include either or both constipation and diarrhea, abdominal pain, nasal and bronchial congestion, asthma, headache, foul breath, sweating, fatigue, and tension.
Kola Nut Products
Chocolate (cocoa) and cola (a source of caffeine) are products obtained from the kola nut, as indicated in most health documents issued by government agencies, both state and federal. However, botanically, the kola nut associated with cocoa is common in South America and the kola nut associated with cola is common in Africa. An allergy to one almost always means an allergy to the other as well. Symptoms most commonly include headache, asthma, gastrointestinal allergy, nasal allergy, and eczema. As far as the patients and doctors are concerned, the question of the source (Africa or South America) of kola nut is moot.
Because corn syrup is widely used commercially, corn allergy can result from a wide variety of foods. Candy, chewing gum, prepared meats, cookies, rolls, doughnuts, some breads, canned fruits, jams, jellies, some fruit juices, ice cream, and sweetened cereals often contain corn syrup. Additionally, whole corn, cornstarch, cornflour, corn oil, and cornmeal can cause allergic reactions to such foods as cereals, tortillas, tamales, enchiladas, soups, beer, whiskey, fish sticks, and pancake or waffle mixes. Symptoms can be bizarre, ranging from allergic tension to allergic fatigue. Headaches can take the form of migraine.
Those with severe allergy to eggs can react to even their odor. Egg allergy can also cause the reaction to vaccines since they are often grown on chicken embryo. Allergic reactions are generally to such foods as eggs themselves, baked goods, candies, mayonnaise, creamy dressings, meatloaf, breaded foods, and noodles.
Symptoms can be widely varied, as with milk. Egg allergy often results in urticaria (hives) though, like chocolate, larger amounts are usually necessary to produce that symptom. Other symptoms include headache, gastrointestinal allergy, eczema, and asthma.
The larger family of plants that are collectively known as peas include peanuts, soybeans, beans, and peas. Peanuts tend to be the greatest offender, and dried beans and peas cause more difficulties than fresh ones. Products that can cause selected allergy reactions are honey (made from the offending plants) and licorice, a legume. Soybean allergy presents a problem similar to corn owing to its widespread use in the form of soybean concentrate or soybean oil. Legume allergies can be quite severe, even resulting in shock. They commonly cause headaches and can be especially troublesome for asthma patients, urticaria patients, and angioedema sufferers.
Peanut allergy is probably the most serious among children and teenagers.
Oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, and tangerines can cause eczema and hives, and often, asthma. They commonly cause canker sores (aphthous stomatitis). Although citrus fruit allergy does not cause allergy to artificial orange and lemon-lime drinks, if patients are allergic to citric acid in the fruits then they will also react to tart artificial drinks and may also react to pineapple.
This fruit, commonly called a vegetable, can cause hives, eczema, and canker sores. It can also cause asthma. In addition to its natural form, it can be encountered in soups, pizza, catsup, salads, meatloaf, and tomato paste, or tomato juice.
Wheat and Other Grains
Wheat, rice, barley, oats, millet, and rye are known allergens, with wheat the most common of the group. Wheat occurs in many dietary products. All common baked goods, cream sauce, macaroni, noodles, pie crust, cereals, chili, and breaded foods contain wheat. Reaction to wheat and its related grains can be severe. Asthma and gastrointestinal disturbances are the most common reactions.
Of various spices that can cause an allergic reaction, cinnamon is generally the most potent. It can be found in catsup, chewing gum, candy, cookies, cakes, rolls, prepared meats, and pies. Bay leaf allergy generally occurs as well, since this spice is related to cinnamon. Pumpkin pie reactions are common owing to their high cinnamon content. Other spices most frequently mentioned as allergens are black pepper, white pepper, oregano, the mints, paprika, and cumin.
Artificial Food Colors
Although various artificial food colors have been implicated in such problems as hyperactive syndrome in children, as allergens the two most common offenders are amaranth (red dye) and tartrazine (yellow dye). Amaranth is most often encountered, but reactions to tartrazine tend to be more severe. Food colors occur in carbonated beverages, some breakfast drinks, bubble gum, flavored ice foods, gelatin desserts, and such medications as antibiotic syrups.