Most Common Food Allergies

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Food allergies occur when your body’s immune system reacts to certain proteins in food. Allergic reactions to foods vary in terms of severity, ranging from mild —hives and swollen lips— to severe and life-threatening symptoms, which are usually referred to as anaphylaxis and may involve fatal respiratory problems and shock. Although promising therapeutic and preventive strategies are being developed, there is no cure for food allergies to date. Early detection and learning how to handle these allergies, including knowing which foods to avoid, are important measures to prevent serious consequences to your health. Talk to your Salus allergist to learn more.


Learn more about the foods that are responsible for most food allergies:


Milk – this is the most common food allergy in infants and children: 2.5% of them experience this allergy before turning 3 years of age. Most children develop it during their first year of life.


Eggs – chicken eggs are among the most commonplace food allergies for babies and toddlers, although it is less common in older children and adults. Most children eventually overcome their egg allergies (71% of them do so by 6 years of age), although, for some people, this allergy persists throughout their lives.


Peanut this allergy is more common in people under 18 years of age, and it is the third most common allergy in adults. It tends to be a life-long allergy: only about 20% of children with peanut allergies overcome them over time. This type of food allergy is the only one for which there is a treatment approved by the United States Food and Drugs Administration (FDA): Palforzia.


Soy soy allergies are more common in babies and toddlers than in older kids. About 0.4% of babies in the U.S. have this kind of allergy. Most children ultimately overcome their soy allergy, although some people remain allergic to it for life. A study found that up to 88% of patients with soy allergies were also allergic or highly sensitive to peanuts.


Wheat – this kind of allergy is most frequently reported in toddlers, and it can affect up to 1% of children in the U.S. A study found that two-thirds of children with wheat allergies overcome it by age 12. However, some people continue experiencing wheat allergies for the rest of their lives. Wheat allergies and celiac disease are adverse reactions to food, but their underlying causes are very different. Wheat allergies are the result of an (IgE-mediated) adverse immune reaction to wheat proteins. These reactions may cause typical allergy symptoms, which affect the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, and the respiratory system, and may even lead to anaphylaxis in some people.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. Antibodies are produced in response to the presence of gluten, causing inflammation and damage to the lining of the small intestine. Many symptoms involve the gastrointestinal tract (such as diarrhea, constipation, weight loss, abdominal pain, and bloating). Other symptoms may include skin rashes and disorders resulting from nutrient deficiencies.


Tree nuts – nut allergies are among the most common in both children and adults. The six most commonly reported nut allergies in children and adults are walnut, almond, hazelnut, pecan, cashew, and pistachio allergies.

Approximately 50% of the children with one tree-nut allergy will have an allergy to another tree nut. About two-thirds of the patients who are reactive to cashews or walnuts will react to pistachios or pecan, respectively. Most children who are allergic to one or more types of nuts never overcome their allergies.


Shellfish – this type of allergy is among the most common in adults and among the most frequently reported food allergies in children. Approximately 2% of the U.S. population reports an allergy to shellfish, and it is usually a lifelong allergy. There are two groups of shellfish: crustaceans (such as shrimp, prawns, crabs, and lobsters) and mollusks/bivalves (such as clams, mussels, oysters, scallops, octopus, squid, abalone, snails, etc.) Crustacean allergies are more common than mollusk allergies, with shrimp being the most common shellfish allergen in both children and adults.


Fish – this kind of allergy is prevalent in 1% of the U.S. population. A study showed that salmon, tuna, catfish, and cod were the fish to which people reported allergic reactions most frequently.

Finned fish and shellfish are not closely related. Being allergic to one does not always mean that you must avoid both, though care is needed to prevent cross-contact between fish and shellfish.


Sesame – this is the ninth most common food allergy among children and adults in the U.S. The edible seeds of the sesame plant are a commonly used ingredient in cuisines around the world, from baked goods to sushi. Several reports suggest that this allergy has increased significantly worldwide over the last two decades. In Puerto Rico, sesame seeds are usually consumed in the form of sweet candy or in bread.

At Salus, we have allergist physicians ready to take care of you. Make your appointment today by calling 787.789.1996.

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