The Dangers of Airborne Allergens

Table of Contents

food allergies

Allergic reactions can happen anywhere at any moment. While most of the time the reaction is brought on by direct contact or consumption, it’s not rare to have an allergic reaction after inhaling the particles released into the air by cooking, steaming, or roasting. Recently, an 11-year-old boy, Camron Jean-Pierre, died from an allergic reaction to fish fumes. His grandmother had been cooking cod when he arrived, and he immediately started experiencing asthma symptoms.

Camron’s family explained that he usually didn’t have severe reactions to food. This happens to many people. A mild allergy can suddenly turn into a severe allergy resulting in anaphylaxis or death.  

Fish and shellfish are among the many foods that produce strong fumes with allergens causing a reaction. Peanuts have also been reported to cause severe allergic reactions from inhalation. This makes food allergies the leading cause of anaphylaxis. It’s important to know all the facts about food allergies and how to prevent a severe reaction.

What Should I Know About Food Allergies?

Up to 8% of children and 2% of adults are affected by food allergies in the U.S. The foods responsible for the most allergic reactions are:

• Eggs
• Fish
• Shellfish
• Tree nuts
• Peanuts
• Cow’s milk
• Soy
• Wheat

Many people with these allergies are allergic to more than one food. The severity of the allergy depends on the individual. Some people are very sensitive to certain food and can experience an allergic reaction just by being near the food. Others are able to manage their symptoms with over the counter allergy medications. However, a food allergy can get more severe over time; so, you should avoid all food that causes a reaction.

You can get tested for a food allergy at an allergy center.  Skin prick tests are most commonly used to diagnose allergies. At NY Allergy & Sinus Centers, our allergists can test for multiple allergies at once in just 20 minutes. We keep emergency medical equipment on hand in case you experience a severe allergic reaction during the test. Your safety is a priority in our office.

Can I Prevent An Allergic Reaction From Airborne Allergens?

You can prevent an allergic reaction from airborne allergens by informing friends and family of your allergy. Ask them to avoid cooking or eating foods you are allergic to on days when you are present. It’s also important to avoid restaurants and other places where allergens are present. Steer clear of seafood restaurants and bakeries that contain a lot of peanut products.

It’s also important to read the labels on food packaging to prevent an allergic reaction. You don’t want to accidentally inhale a food you are allergic to after opening a bag of cookies.

What Do I Do If I Experience An Allergic Reaction From Fumes?

It’s not always possible to avoid airborne allergens. In this case, you’ll need to focus on treatment. If you suffer from food allergies, you should always carry an epinephrine auto-injector and inhaler. Epinephrine is the only treatment for anaphylaxis and an inhaled corticosteroid can help treat asthma symptoms caused by an allergic reaction. An allergist can train you to administer both medications. Call (212) 686-4448 to discuss treatment options with our board-certified physicians.

Meet The Physician Collaborator

Dr. Sima Patel is a doctor of osteopathic medicine. She is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine as well as the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. Dr. Patel is one of our highly qualified NYC allergists. You can schedule an appointment with Dr. Patel by calling or visiting one of our six locations throughout Manhattan and Queens.