4 signs you’ve developed a deadly food allergy like chef Michael Chiarello: experts

Food allergies impact an estimated 4% of adults and 8% of children, many of whom outgrow the disposition, according to the Mayo Clinic.

But this weekend’s sudden death of Food Network star Michael Chiarello — who was subject to a food allergy that caused him to enter anaphylactic shock — is drawing more focus on the potential consequences faced by the 61-year-old celebrity chef and others.

“For some people, an allergic reaction to a particular food may be uncomfortable but not severe. For other people, an allergic food reaction can be frightening and even life-threatening,” the clinic wrote.

“Food allergy symptoms usually develop within a few minutes to two hours after eating the offending food. Rarely, symptoms may be delayed for several hours.”

Food allergies are caused when a person’s immune system “mistakenly identifies” a substance or food as something that is harmful to the body, according to Mayo.

Celebrity chef Michael Chiarello succumbed to a food allergy over the weekend at age 61.

Celebrity chef Michael Chiarello died due to a food allergy over the weekend. He was 61.
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In response, immune systems release an antigen called immunoglobulin E (IgE) as a countermeasure.

“The next time you eat even the smallest amount of that food, IgE antibodies sense it and signal your immune system to release a chemical called histamine, as well as other chemicals, into your bloodstream,” the clinic noted.

“These chemicals cause allergy symptoms.”

These are some of the warning signs to keep an eye out for.

Worried you've developed a food allergy? These are the warning signs to know about.

Worried you’ve developed a food allergy? These are the warning signs to know about.
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Itchiness

A critical symptom to look out for includes a tingling or itching in the mouth and a breakout of hives, accompanied by a swelling of the lips, tongue, face and throat, among other body parts, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

The National Health Service further warns of “swelling of the face, around the eyes, lips, tongue and roof of the mouth.”

Stomach issues

Nausea and indigestion are commonly associated with food allergies and are strong indicators that rule out seasonal allergies, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

The college also noted that vomiting and diarrhea are frequent symptoms as well.

“If you eat the allergen, you’re more likely to have symptoms in your mouth, stomach and intestines.”

Ear, nose and throat symptoms

Difficulty breathing, along with a hoarse throat, and signs of nasal congestion are all additional symptoms of a food allergy, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Other warning signs include dizziness and fainting as well.

“See your health care provider or allergist if you have food allergy symptoms shortly after eating. If possible, see your provider when the allergic reaction is occurring,” Mayo recommends.

“This will help your provider make a diagnosis.”

Chiarello hosted shows on both PBS and the Food Network and appeared on series including “Top Chef Masters” and “The Next Iron Chef.”

Chiarello hosted shows on both PBS and the Food Network and appeared on series including “Top Chef Masters” and “The Next Iron Chef.”
Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images

Warning signs of anaphylaxis

The largest risk of food allergies, as was the case with Chiarello, is anaphylaxis — a life-threatening condition that causes airway constriction and a severe drop in blood pressure, among other dangerous symptoms.

“Symptoms of anaphylaxis may start out as relatively mild but, if not treated promptly, symptoms can become life-threatening in a short amount of time,” according to the Federal Drug Administration.

Teenagers and children are at especially high risk for anaphylaxis — which can result in a coma — as are those with a history of asthma.

Some telltale signs of it include difficulty breathing, flush skin, itchy palms or feet soles, and a fast pulse, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Not using an EpiPen hastily enough — some individuals with several allergies that can cause anaphylaxis must carry one at all times — could increase the risk of anaphylaxis, the Mayo Clinic warned, reporting that “emergency treatment is critical for anaphylaxis.”

Common food allergies — and a caution about ‘hidden’ issues

Peanuts are among the common foods that can trigger allergic reactions.

Peanuts are among the common foods that can trigger allergic reactions.
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Most commonly, food allergies — along with 90% of serious reactions including anaphylaxis — are caused by crustacean shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, eggs, milk, wheat, soy and sesame, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Research in the National Library of Medicine has also warned of foods containing “hidden” allergens that may not appear on restaurant menus.

That is “particularly dangerous for patients with food allergies,” according to the report.

“Be extra careful when eating in restaurants. Waiters (and sometimes the kitchen staff) may not always know the ingredients of every dish on the menu,” the ACAAI advises. “Depending on your sensitivity, even just walking into a kitchen or a restaurant can cause an allergic reaction.”

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