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Top 10 Food Allergy Symptoms

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A true food allergy is a abnormal response to a food triggered by a reaction in the body’s immune system and characterized by specific symptoms. The allergens responsible for food allergies are proteins that are usually resistant to heat from cooking, gastric acid and digestive enzymes. The symptoms of a food allergy begin within minutes of food entering the mouth to hours as food is digested and the allergens enter the bloodstream.

Tingling in the Mouth

A person with a food allergy can experience a tingling sensation in the mouth. The onset is immediate and may include itchy lips, tongue and throat. Sometimes, a person’s lips, tongue and throat may swell.

Difficulty Swallowing

This is the sensation that food is stuck in the throat or upper chest. It can be felt high in the neck or lower in the chest behind the breastbone.

Trouble Breathing

During an allergic reaction to food, a person may experience trouble breathing. As the allergens are absorbed and enter the bloodstream, they reach the respiratory airways. A person begins to wheeze as air flows through the narrowed airways.

Nasal Congestion

The sudden onset of a stuffy nose occurs because the membranes lining the nose become swollen. The blood vessels in the nasal mucosa become inflamed secondary to the allergic reaction. During an allergic reaction, histamine is released and causes inflammation.

Nausea & Vomiting

Once the offending food enters the stomach, a person feels nauseous. The person has the urge to vomit. Vomiting is the body’s way to remove the irritant food from the stomach.

Abdominal Pain

After the food is digested in the stomach, abdominal symptoms develop. Abdominal pain can be felt in the area between the chest and groin.


Loose, watery frequent bowel movements are a symptom of a food allergy. Diarrhea is the body’s mechanism for expelling the allergen from the intestinal tract.


Hives are raised red welts that develop on the surface of the skin. Often itchy, these bumps are a symptom of an allergic reaction. With an allergic reaction, histamine is released causing itching and swelling.

Lightheadedness & Weakness

Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

An additional reaction that is much harder to pinpoint are behavioral changes, particularly in children. This can manifest itself as lethargy, weepiness, tantrums and general irritability.

When I have a corn reaction (and I'm an adult) I tend to become weepy and depressed. If I wasn't aware that I had a food allergy I would immediately assume that I had a chemical imbalance of some sort, that's how severe the emotional change can seem.

October 31, 2010 - 9:11am
(reply to Anonymous)

I know what you mean, my depression was pretty severe by the time I was diagnosed with 60 food spice and herbal allergies. Another thing I didn't see mentioned here is muscle and joint pains that are caused by food allergies, mine almost gone now because of elimination

December 27, 2011 - 10:37am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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