oral allergy syndrome.
When you’re allergic to a tree pollen, for example, you may react to eating the fruit from that tree. In addition to a tingly sensation, you may get a rash or hives on your mouth. It’s unlikely to cause anaphylaxis and, Gupta says, you may be able to keep eating the food.
“It’s important to talk to your allergist and make sure you know what’s going on,” she adds, because sometimes cooking the food can reduce the reaction.
That’s not true, however, for those who experience a serious allergic reaction.
“Those are the ones where you need to completely avoid that allergen,” Gupta says, adding that getting a formal diagnosis is important.
While 10% of adults have food allergies, about 20% of those in Gupta’s study suspected they did. Many may simply have had an intolerance to a certain food — for example, lactose in milk. About 1 in 20 in Gupta’s study reported seeking a diagnosis.
A small Canadian study of 14 patients found that “adult-onset food allergy — particularly with resultant anaphylaxis — is an important phenomenon to recognize, even when patients have previously tolerated the food in question.”
If you have a suspected allergic reaction to a food and it’s not something severe enough to send you to the ER, photograph your reaction along with the food, including any spices used in the dish and share the photos with your doctor, Elliott suggests.
That’s because allergies to spices are on the rise. Your doctor can do targeted testing, she says, of the specific ingredients in the suspected dish.
Just don’t despair if you love crab or nuts and suddenly can’t eat them. Treatments are on the way, Gupta adds.
Already, there is a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved oral immunotherapy for peanut allergies in children. While it’s not yet endorsed for adults, Gupta predicts it eventually will be.
Ongoing clinical trials are also evaluating biologic medications that alter part of the immune pathway that causes a reaction.
“I just want everyone to know, there’s hope right now, in the next five to 10 years, we will have treatments for food allergies,” Gupta concludes.