Signs you might be ALLERGIC to food, from stomach cramps to sneezing

Signs you might be ALLERGIC to food, from stomach cramps to sneezing, after death of American chef and TV host Michael Chiarello

  • TV chef Michael Chiarello, died age 61 following an allergic reaction 
  • Experts say itchy skin, coughing and sneezing are signs you are allergic to food 

American chef and TV host Michael Chiarello died age 61 after suffering an allergic reaction.

He died Friday night, surrounded by family and friends, at the Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa, California. 

The award-winning TV chef was hospitalised for a week following the reaction that ultimately led to anaphylaxis, according to his Gruppo Chiarello restaurant group. 

Allergic reactions are usually mild, triggering symptoms such as abdominal pain and vomiting. 

However, they can be very serious and trigger anaphylaxis within minutes of eating the offending food or drink. 

The Italian-American culinary whiz and TV host appeared on a slew of television shows and opened several restaurants

Some of the most common symptoms of an allergic reaction can happen within ten minutes of eating an allergen. Sneezing, getting a runny nose, coughing, getting stomach cramps, feeling sick or getting itchy skin are all signs of an allergic reaction to a food


  • cows’ milk
  • eggs
  • peanuts, soybeans, peas and chickpeas
  • tree nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews, pistachios and Brazil nuts
  • shellfish, such as prawns, crab and lobster
  • wheat

Stomach cramps

Feeling or being sick and experiencing stomach cramps can both be signs of an allergic reaction.

Symptoms ‘almost always’ appear within a few seconds or minutes of eating the offending food, according to the NHS. 

Stomach pain and nausea can, however, also occur with food intolerances, which tend to begin 30 minutes after eating or drinking the item in question.

Allergies involve the immune system and can be life-threatening.  

Itchy and swelling skin

Hives, itch skin and swelling are common mild and moderate symptoms of many food allergies. 

This itching and swelling can occur externally on the skin or inside the mouth. 

With a cow’s milk allergy, for example, the symptoms can include an itchy mouth, tongue and throat as well as swollen lips, eyes or face. 

In some cases, it can also trigger a raised itchy rash on the skin, known as hives, says Allergy UK. 

Although swelling and skin reactions can be a mild allergy symptom, if your lips, throat, tongue suddenly become swollen you should call 999, the NHS warns. 

He authored several cookbooks and was named Food & Wine magazine’s Chef of the Year in 1985 as well as CIA’s Chef of the Year in 1995

Chiarello found instant fame when he opened his first restaurant, Toby’s, after graduating from college


  • IgE-mediated food allergy – the most common type, triggered by the immune system producing an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). Symptoms occur a few seconds or minutes after eating. There’s a greater risk of anaphylaxis with this type of allergy.
  • non-IgE-mediated food allergy – these allergic reactions aren’t caused by immunoglobulin E, but by other cells in the immune system. This type of allergy is often difficult to diagnose as symptoms take much longer to develop (up to several hours).
  • mixed IgE and non-IgE-mediated food allergies – some people may experience symptoms from both types.

Source: NHS 

Runny nose

Sneezing and getting a runny nose after eating could be a sign you are allergic, too.

An allergy can develop at any point in a person’s life, according to Allergy UK. 

So even if you have not experienced this reaction before to a food, you can still develop one. 

‘If you are concerned or are having severe or unpleasant symptoms then take a non-sedating antihistamine,’ says Allergy UK. 

‘If you have taken an antihistamine and feel your symptoms are not improving then you may need additional treatment and you should seek medical advice.’

Wheezy cough 

Struggling to breathe or struggling with a wheezy cough are thought to be ‘classic’ respiratory reactions to a food allergy. 

But these symptoms can quickly become life-threatening.  

Difficulty breathing is an initial symptom of anaphylaxis, according to Allergy UK. 

If someone is experiencing this symptom it should be treated as a medical emergency, an ambulance should be called, and an adrenalin shot should be given if it is available. 

Anaphylaxis is the result of your body’s immune system overreacting to a harmless substance, such as food.

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