Food Allergies

Also known as: milk allergy, egg allergy, peanut allergy, tree nut allergy, soy allergy, wheat allergy.

What are food allergies?

Food allergies are when a person develops allergy antibodies (IgE antibodies) to a protein in a food, and when exposed to this protein it causes an allergic reaction.

What causes food allergies?

We do not know why certain people develop food allergies and others do not. There are many theories as to why food allergies are becoming more prevalent, but none have been confirmed. We do know that delaying the introduction of peanut increases the chance of developing a food allergy to peanut. There are several ongoing studies that are looking at early introduction of other foods and if this helps to prevent the development of food allergies.

What are the symptoms of food allergies?

Symptoms of an allergic reaction are:
  • Hives
  • Swelling
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramping
There is no way to predict the severity of an allergic reaction to food, as there are many factors that may contribute to this.

What are food allergy care options?

The only option at this time is to strictly avoid the food that causes the allergic reaction. Even small amounts of exposure to the protein in the food can cause a severe allergic reaction. Everyone diagnosed with food allergy should have a food allergy action plan, and carry an auto injectable epinephrine device, as this is the only medication that treats anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction). There is a chance that people can grow out of their food allergies. A board certified allergist can evaluate and determine if these foods can be reintroduced into the diet.

Reviewed by: Amy S Feldman, MD

This page was last updated on: June 21, 2019 02:21 AM