Allergies Overview

An allergy is a condition where an individual suffers a mild to a severe reaction to something they have come in contact with – this can be chemical, edible, or environmental in nature. The body’s immune system over-reacts to the substance, causing an allergic response. The result can manifest in many forms, including hives, rash, or swelling of a localized area.

The general causes of allergies can be traced to food, drinks, insect bites/stings, synthetic or natural materials, plants, or medications. The top ten allergens are listed below.

Tree nuts include Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, and any other type of nut that grows on trees. Rooted nuts like peanuts are also of concern. Milk and dairy (including cheese) is common, as well as seafood, shellfish (mollusks, crab and lobster, shrimp, etc.) and fish. Some grains like soy, wheat, cocoa, and even certain food additives can be identified as ‘allergens’ by the body.

The Range of Symptoms that can Appear

In cases here in Ottawa where contact is made with any of the aforementioned items, the symptomatic reactions will vary depending on the individual’s immune system. In extreme¬†cases we have what is called ‘anaphylaxis’, which is a severe life-threatening reaction – this can manifest in difficulty breathing, a drop in blood pressure or even shock – leading to unconsciousness and sometimes death.

The following conditions are common symptoms of an allergic reaction:

  • Flushed face, hives or rash, red and itchy skin
  • Swelling of the eyes, face, lips, throat and tongue
  • Trouble breathing, speaking or swallowing
  • Anxiety, distress, faintness, paleness, sense of doom, weakness
  • Cramps, diarrhea, vomiting
  • A drop in blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, loss of consciousness

Here are the Top Ten Food Allergens:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Mustard
  • Root nuts (Peanuts)
  • Sesame
  • Seafood (Fish, Crustaceans and Shellfish)
  • Sulphites
  • Tree Nuts
  • Soy
  • Wheat