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Pierre P. Gagnon, MD
Could Your Runny Nose Be Caused By a Food Allergy?
Pierre-Paul Gagnon, MD

Could Your Runny Nose Be Caused By a Food Allergy?

Could Your Runny Nose
Be Caused By a Food Allergy?

Many people are surprised that a food they eat can cause their nose to become stuffy or their lungs to congest. People commonly think that food allergies only cause acute dramatic reactions; for example, the person who breaks out in hives after eating strawberries or the person who becomes asthmatic after eating peanuts. These are the reactions people commonly relate to food allergies because they are obvious and unpleasant.

A more common food allergy that can be even more harmful is a masked allergy or food addiction. The symptoms are often delayed and can almost always be attributed to another factor and therefore often go unrecognized. When dealing with a masked allergy, the ingestion of the problem food causes your symptoms to immediately improve.

You do feel better and seem to get a beneficial response from eating that food, but the improvement is only temporary. Usually within a matter of hours you return to your chronically sick condition. Once you feel bad again it is likely that you will consume the problem food again to make yourself feel better and this sets up the cycle all over again.

A food allergy can cause symptoms in any part of the body. Virtually every organ is susceptible, which produces an unlimited variety of symptoms.

Because most of the time a person is allergic to more than one food, it is necessary to be your own detective in the diagnosis process. Be aware of what you have eaten, how you feel and what your specific symptoms are. Below are some of the symptoms that may occur

hives and rash

itching or burning of the skin

cramps, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, bloating after meals

canker sores

matted, weeping or itching eyes

visual problems

sneezing, sinusitis, itchy nose, runny nose, polyps

sore throat, hoarseness, cough

headaches or migraines

asthma and other breathing difficulties

aching of muscles and joints

fatigue for no explicable reason


sleepiness or drowsiness, especially after meals


anxiousness, nervousness, tenseness, a floating feeling

insomnia, or waking up during the night without being able to go back to sleep

mental confusion, inability to concentrate



irritability, for no explicable reason

water retention

dark puffy circles under the eyes

waking up tired after a good nights sleep

inability to miss or be late for a meal, craving of a specific food

The best treatment for food allergies is to stop eating the offending foods. Often the sensitivity to the food will disappear and the food may be returned to the diet a little bit at a time. If the food you are allergic to is a hidden food (commonly found in processed food) it may be difficult to eliminate from yur diet. It may be possible for you to be treated in such a way that the food causing the problem can be eaten without ill effects.

You should discuss this possibility with your allergist.

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