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Food allergies are a growing concern worldwide, affecting millions of people of all ages. An allergy occurs when the immune system mistakenly identifies a harmless substance, such as a specific food, as a threat. This triggers a response that can range from mild discomfort to severe and life-threatening reactions. Understanding the most common food allergies is crucial for individuals to manage their diets and avoid potential risks.

Peanut allergy is one of the most common and severe food allergies, affecting both children and adults. Even small traces of peanuts or peanut products can trigger an allergic reaction, ranging from hives and stomach pain to anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening condition. Peanut allergies are often lifelong, with avoidance being the primary treatment method.

Tree Nuts:
Tree nuts such as almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pistachios are also common allergens. Individuals allergic to one type of tree nut are often advised to avoid all tree nuts due to the risk of cross-reactivity. Allergic reactions to tree nuts can vary in severity, with symptoms ranging from mild itching to respiratory distress.

Milk allergy is one of the most prevalent food allergies in infants and young children. The allergy is triggered by proteins found in cow’s milk and can lead to various symptoms, including hives, digestive issues, and respiratory problems. Individuals with a milk allergy must avoid dairy products and may require alternative sources of calcium and vitamin D in their diets.

Egg allergy is common in children but can also affect adults. The allergy is usually triggered by proteins found in egg whites or yolks and can cause symptoms ranging from skin rashes to digestive issues. Individuals with an egg allergy must be cautious when consuming baked goods, processed foods, and certain vaccines that may contain egg derivatives.

Soy allergy is another common food allergy, particularly in children. Soybeans and soy products are widely used in processed foods, making avoidance challenging for individuals with this allergy. Symptoms of soy allergy can vary and may include hives, digestive problems, and respiratory issues. Reading food labels carefully is essential for those with soy allergies.

Wheat allergy is relatively common, with gluten being the primary trigger. Individuals with wheat allergy may experience symptoms such as hives, digestive discomfort, and respiratory issues after consuming wheat-containing products. Some people with wheat allergy may also have celiac disease, an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten.

Fish and Shellfish:
Fish and shellfish allergies are prevalent and can cause severe allergic reactions. Allergies to fish (e.g., salmon, tuna) and shellfish (e.g., shrimp, crab) can lead to symptoms ranging from hives to anaphylaxis. Individuals with these allergies must be vigilant about reading food labels and informing restaurant staff about their allergies to avoid accidental exposure.

Sesame allergy is becoming more recognized as a prevalent food allergy, particularly in adults. Sesame seeds and sesame oil are common ingredients in various cuisines and food products, making avoidance challenging. Allergic reactions to sesame can range from mild itching to severe respiratory distress.

In conclusion, being aware of the most common food allergies is vital for individuals to protect themselves and their loved ones from potential allergic reactions. If you suspect you have a food allergy, consult an allergist for proper testing and guidance on managing your condition. Remember, prevention is key when it comes to food allergies, so always read food labels carefully and communicate your allergies to others when dining out.