Patient education: Avoiding food allergy triggers

Food hypersensitivity is one of the most common allergy subsets. While it’s possible to be sensitive to any food, the most common food allergens are peanuts, eggs, wheat, soybeans, seafood and milk. Although they’re pretty common, with two million people in the UK having received a diagnosis for a food allergy and possibly many others yet to discover they have a food hypersensitivity, that doesn’t make allergies any less troublesome.

The severity of the symptoms depends on the patient. While for some, the signs are so mild that they’re barely observable, and the person might not even realise they have a food allergy, others can have severe or even life-threatening reactions. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with an allergy, you might feel upset over it. After all, having an allergy means you have to be extra cautious about the environment you’re in and what you consume to avoid triggering a reaction.

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Recognise the symptoms

Some people respond differently to the same medicine or treatment schemes. The same can be said for the symptoms you have. Since the signs can be different between various allergy episodes, it might help you to keep a log of your diet and the symptoms you have afterwards. The difference in reaction can depend on various factors, including the amount of food allergen you’ve consumed, other foods you’ve eaten, and medication or stress.

Some of the symptoms you should look out for include the following:

  • Abdominal pains
  • Swelling around the face or of the lips and tongue
  • Skin flushing, hives or a rash
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of consciousness in extreme cases

In the case of anaphylactic shock, an extreme reaction that can be potentially life-threatening, you can notice symptoms such as a severely constricted airway, severely low blood pressure, shock and suffocation due to a swollen larynx.

It’s important to remember that even severe reactions can start relatively mild before spiralling out of control. Staying vigilant can help you act promptly and get the necessary medical intervention to prevent serious consequences.


Avoiding the food you’re allergic to is a no-brainer, but there are other aspects you should take into consideration. Cross-contamination occurs when foodstuffs come into contact with one another during manufacturing, storage, or preparation and is a significant challenge for people dealing with hypersensitivity. Utensils, objects or surfaces can also contribute to the spread of allergens, and depending on the severity of your allergy, you might have a nasty reaction from even a tiny amount of something that can make you susceptible to a full-blown response.

However, avoiding this daily is an impossible task. It becomes even more challenging when you consider dining at someone else’s place or at a restaurant. Moreover, when foods are processed in factories, it’s pretty common for items to come into contact with one another. But there are still things you can do to stay safe.

  • Carefully reading the labels of the foods you purchase can help you avoid a disaster. Manufacturers have a duty to provide information about any allergens that may have come into contact with their products, even if the products themselves don’t contain any allergens. Don’t buy packaged foods that don’t offer this information, and avoid bulk bins, as shoppers might have used the same scoops in separate containers.
  • If you’re eating at a friend’s house, inform them that you have an allergy before you arrive. Ask them to wash the surfaces and utensils where they prepare the foods if they use ingredients that can trigger a reaction. You may also request that the food be cooked at different times and stored separately if necessary.
  • If you’re eating at a restaurant, review the menu before you arrive. If possible, you can even phone the chef beforehand. After you arrive, you can remind the staff that you have an allergy. Most restaurants are willing to adjust recipes or prepare something simple, even if it’s not on the menu. To be on the safe side, you should avoid going to a restaurant during lunch or brunch. These are the busiest times of the day, and the kitchen staff has a lot on their plate. Therefore, cross-contamination becomes more likely.

If you’ve taken all the necessary precautions but still developed an allergic reaction due to someone else neglecting to pay attention to your requirements, contact The amount you’re eligible to receive depends on the severity of your symptoms and whether or not you were left with any chronic health damage.

Additional requirements

If you enjoy travelling, you’re familiar with the snacks served on planes. Nuts are one of the most common, which is a potential hazard if you have an allergy. To avoid this, you can bring your food on the plane. There’s no way of knowing that there was no cross-contamination along the way, and it’s better to be safe rather than sorry. Make a food itinerary before you leave and decide on the restaurants where you’ll eat during your holiday. Make sure to bring a travel kit with all of your medications that you have nearby at hand at all times.

You should also be aware of possible allergens hiding in non-food items. Medications, both prescription and nonprescription, can contain allergens such as lactose. Gelatin and egg protein are also present in some vaccines, such as the ones for measles, yellow fever and rubella. If you travel to an area where you need to receive immunisation before departure, you must discuss your options with your doctor.

Cosmetics might contain nut oils, wheat, milk or soy. Putting them on your lips or eyelids might trigger a severe allergic reaction. And if you’re into arts and crafts, you should know that some paints contain egg white. It might be enough for you to start experiencing symptoms if the pigment touches your skin.

It can be tiring looking out for everything. However, when you have an allergy, it’s an essential thing to do. It’s the only way to protect your well-being at all times.


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