Tag Archives: allergens

The Big 8 Food Allergens (Part 2)

About 15 million Americans have food allergies. Over 90% of all food reactions (nearly 30,000 anaphylactic reactions annually) are caused by 8 specific allergens. This group of highly allergic foods has been dubbed “The Big 8” (if you haven’t caught our post on the first 4, check it out). The Big 8 include: peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, eggs and:

  • Fish – People with fish allergies may be sensitive to all or only a couple types of fish. They are often advised to avoid all fish as a preventative measure. Fish allergies can occur at any age and can be life-threatening. Unfortunately, a fish allergy can be extra dangerous because unlike many foods that only cause a reaction upon contact, if fish is cooking and the allergic person breathes in the fumes, they can have a serious or life-threatening reaction. So not only do people with fish allergies have to avoid eating or touching fish, but sometimes must avoid even being around cooking fish or others who are eating it. Fish ingredients are often hidden in strange foods such as worcestershire sauce, caesar salad and dressing or Clamato drink.
  • Crustacean Shellfish – largely consist of shelled seafood such as shrimp, crab, lobster, prawns and crayfish. Mollusks can cause allergic reactions too but aren’t as common as crustaceans. Similarly to fish, crustacean allergies can be caused by inhalation of the cooking shellfish or cross contamination as well as direct contact or ingestion. They are often caused by a protein called tropomyosin that is found in many shellfish. These reactions could be mild, moderate or deadly and may require the person to carry an EpiPen. While food companies must disclose shellfish ingredients, they don’t have to list a warning about mollusk ingredients like oysters, so read the label carefully for keywords. Shellfish ingredients may be present in such foods as surimi, glucosamine and bouillabaisse, to name a few. It is a good idea to let establishments or planes know in advance about your allergy so they can refrain from serving dishes that contain seafood.
  • Wheat – A wheat allergy is different from celiac disease. Celiac is an autoimmune condition in which the small intestine overreacts to gluten proteins causing many unpleasant gastrointestinal and systemic symptoms. A wheat allergy is an IgE response to wheat causing a range of symptoms from hives, itchy eyes, headaches to anaphylactic symptoms. If you have a wheat allergy it is important to know your labels. There are often hidden wheat ingredients to look for include: “flour,” “wheat germ,” “wheat starch,” “bran,” “modified food starch,” “graham flour,” “farina,” “spelt” and “semolina.”
  • Soy – soy allergies afflict people of all ages and are usually caused by an intolerance to certain proteins in soy. It can be mild to life-threatening, often including such symptoms as gastrointestinal, respiratory, topical or anaphylaxis. Soy is found in a wide range of food products and can be difficult to avoid.

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The “Big 8” Food Allergens (Part 1)

Nearly 15 million Americans have food allergies. People can be allergic to nearly any type of food substance however, 8 foods in particular comprise 90% of all food allergies, earning them the moniker “The Big 8”. These allergens are responsible for up to 30,000 anaphylactic reactions annually. Due to the prevalence of the Big 8, companies are required to list these ingredients on labels. Unfortunately not all other allergy foods contain such warnings. The Big 8 include:

  1. Peanuts – peanuts are one of the most notorious and prevalent food allergies. They are also the most common cause of food induced anaphylaxis because those who are highly reactive to peanuts can have life-threatening reactions not only through ingestion, but also through cross contamination or inhalation. Many parents give their babies their first taste of peanut butter early under supervised circumstances, as some studies suggest early exposure may lower risks of developing the allergy, or in the least will catch it right away before a potentially deadly chance encounter can occur.
  2. Tree nuts – Unlike most of the others listed here, a tree nut allergy is one of the Big 8 that is rarely outgrown. Some of the most well known tree nuts are almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts and pine nuts. Tree nuts allergies range from mild to severe, but are often serious enough for the sufferer to carry an EpiPen. Many people hear “nut allergies” and assume those allergic to tree nuts definitely share an allergy peanuts, but that isn’t necessarily true. Peanuts are actually legumes not nuts, so just because you are allergic to tree nuts doesn’t mean you are automatically allergic to peanuts and vice versa.
  1. Milk – Cow’s milk is the most common food allergy in young children. Approximately 5% of children under 3 years of age are allergic to milk. Milk allergies should not be confused with lactose intolerance. People with milk allergies have an immune overreaction to milk, causing hives or rashes to life-threatening anaphylactic reactions, whereas people with lactose intolerance are missing the enzyme that breaks down lactose, so their system cannot process dairy regularly, resulting in gastrointestinal symptoms. Children allergic to milk most often carry EpiPens in case their symptoms advance. Many children grow out of dairy allergies.
  2. Eggs – Are caused by an intolerance to a specific protein found in hen’s eggs. It is most common in children under 5 and is commonly outgrown. It usually causes digestive symptoms such as swelling, bloating, nausea and vomiting but can also cause hives, nasal symptoms or in rare cases more severe symptoms. If you have an egg allergy, look out for: “egg white”, “dried egg” or “albumin” listed in ingredients.

Thanks for reading, please keep an eye out for #’s 5-8 of The Big 8 in our next post! Thanks for visiting DocChat!

Five Most Common Allergy Triggers


Knowing your allergies is extremely important. But, knowing what caused those allergies is even more important. Being exposed to a pollution-congested environment can make the body more prone to infections. Around 50 million people in the United States are estimated to have some kind of allergy, and this figure continues to escalate.

Listed below are five of the most common allergy triggers.

· Pollen

Many people suffer from allergies caused by pollen which is widely known as ‘hay fever’. Various plants, trees, flowers, and grass produce pollen which ultimately causes an allergic reaction in your body. Among many others, these trees are known to cause allergies: cedar, oak, juniper, birch, and olive.

It is advisable that you avoid being around these trees by staying indoors or closing windows, especially during the season when the pollen count is high. Possible symptoms of pollen allergy are sneezing, nasal congestion and watery eyes. Steroid sprays and allergy tablets should be included in the treatment course.

· Mold

Molds are tiny fungi plants with spores. They tend to float in the air and flourish in areas which are damp, warm, and dark like bathrooms, basements and around heaps of leaves. Thus, mold can trigger your allergies all year-round.

Allergies triggered by mold have almost the same kind of symptoms as pollen allergy – itching, sneezing and congestion. Thus, you should follow the same treatment as well.

In order to avoid allergic reaction from molds, it is necessary to take proper action that prevents its growth. Replacing rugs frequently in your bathroom and laundry room, while emptying and cleaning the trash can regularly will help. If you are clearing leaves or mowing the grass, then wear a mask as a precaution.

· Dust Mites

These are microscopic spiders which contribute to the major part of allergic reactions among people. Allergies from dust mites are usually caused during warm weather, specifically August.
The symptoms are much severe as it can cause shortness in breath apart from sneezing, coughing, runny nose and itchiness. People who suffer from dust allergy tend to feel asthma-like symptoms. If you are going through a serious allergic reaction, then it is important that you take steroid nasal sprays and allergy shots.
Similar to the rest of the allergies, you should limit your exposure to dust mites. This can be done by covering your pillows and beds with dust proof covers. Since they are frequently found in carpets and stuffed toys, you should keep them away from your home.

· Animal Dander

Your pets contain fluids in their saliva and other allergens in their fur and skin that may cause instant allergic reaction. Having a dog and cat is very common among American households.
You are likely to experience stuffy nose, swelling of membranes, and red blotches on your skin. Avoiding any sort of contact from your pets is the best course of action if you wish to avoid allergy. However, if you still prefer to keep pets in your home, it is important that you clean them regularly and remove the dander outside of your home.

· Weeds

Ragweed carries, quite possibly, the most allergens, which is then followed by others such as sagebrush and pigweed.

Sneezing, nasal congestion, problems in sleeping, and puffy eyes are the most common symptoms of ragweed allergy. To avoid allergies from weed, you should stay indoors when the pollen count of weeds is high, especially during ragweed season. Washing your hands often when you touch weeds or come from outdoors can also help.

Now that you know the most common allergens we’re hopeful you will find it easier to stay healthy. However, if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, please get in touch with us as help is here.