When to Visit Urgent Care After an Allergic Reaction to Food

Food allergies can range from mildly annoying to life-threatening. What’s worse, more than 160 different foods have been reported to cause allergic reactions, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Since May 12-18 is Food Allergy Awareness Week, now is a perfect time to review what you should do if you or a loved one experiences an allergic reaction to food. In this article, we’ll discuss several different types of food allergies, symptoms to look for, and when you should seek professional care.

What Are Food Allergies?

Data from the CDC shows that roughly 6% of people in the United States have a food allergy. Typically, food allergies are more common in babies and children and tend to go away as you age. However, many adults have lifelong food allergies, and some even develop them later in life to foods they’ve eaten for years.

An allergic reaction happens when your body’s immune system mistakenly identifies food, usually a protein in the food, as a danger. It then triggers a protective response, which causes the symptoms you experience. Although your body is trying to help, the reaction can be quite dangerous if left untreated.

While many types of food can trigger an allergic reaction, scientists have identified a group of nine foods that make up about 90% of all food allergies. These “Big 9” include:

  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Eggs
  • Milk and Dairy
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Sesame

Keep in mind, someone can be allergic to one or several types of food. The severity of an allergic reaction to food can also vary based on how much food is consumed or whether it is the first reaction or not. Often, the first reaction to a new food you’re allergic to is mild and any additional reactions that happen in the future can be more severe.

What Does an Allergic Reaction to Food Look Like?

Allergic reactions to food can look quite different depending on their severity and what symptoms occur. These symptoms may begin within minutes of eating (or even touching) the food you’re allergic to, or they may take several hours to appear.

For some people, mild symptoms on the skin like a rash, itching, or hives might be the only signs. Others might experience gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting or stomach cramps.

More severe allergic reactions can cause swelling in your airway, which makes it hard to breathe, and you might experience wheezing, coughing, or tightness in your throat. You may also feel dizzy or faint and feel like your pulse is weak.

The most dangerous type of allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, comes on quickly, includes a combination of these symptoms, and can be deadly if left untreated. If you experience symptoms that affect more than one body system, such as a rash and vomiting together, this could be an early sign of anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical treatment. If you suspect anaphylaxis, dial 911 immediately or go to the nearest emergency room for care.

When to Visit Urgent Care for a Food Allergy

If you think you or a loved one is having a mild allergic reaction that isn’t anaphylaxis, urgent care can be a great place to turn. For non-life-threatening symptoms like hives, a rash, or itching, urgent care can help you find relief and better understand the source of your allergy.

Your provider will prescribe treatment to manage your symptoms and stop the allergic reaction from getting worse. This might include creams to ease itching or treat a skin rash as well as oral medications to reduce your body’s response to the allergen. They’ll also go through a detailed medical history to determine which food is most likely responsible and give you tips for avoiding allergy triggers.

At the end of your visit, your provider can also refer you to an allergy specialist for follow-up care and/or testing to help prevent future allergic reactions.

Velocity Urgent Care is Here to Help

When you need help with a mild allergic reaction to food, Velocity Urgent Care has your back. Our providers are ready to help you better understand your allergy symptoms and find relief so you can get back to living life to the fullest.

When you need care, stop in at any of our conveniently located clinics across Virginia or make an appointment with our online registration portal to skip the waiting room. We even offer text message updates so you can wait in the car (if you prefer) until it’s time for your appointment.

We’ve put strict sterilization protocols into place and are carefully handling patients who may be contagious to ensure each of our clinics is safe for those who need urgent medical care or occupational health services.

Velocity Urgent Care is an in-network provider for most major insurance plans, meaning you can be seen for the cost of your co-pay and deductible.

All our locations also accept Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare. Veterans Administration beneficiaries are also welcome.

To learn more about our services, locations, hours, and more, visit www.velocityuc.com.