What You Need To Know About Food Allergies

When the immune system reacts abnormally to something someone eats or drinks, this is known as a food allergy. Children are more likely to have food allergies than adults.

Food allergies can affect the skin, digestive tract, or respiratory or cardiovascular system. Many foods can be allergens, but certain foods are far more likely than other foods to trigger allergic reactions.

There are eight foods that are responsible for 90 percent of food allergies, namely:

  • Cow's milk
  • Egg
  • Nuts
  • Fish
  • The shells
  • Tree nuts (such as cashews or walnuts)
  • Wheat
  • Soy

Symptoms of food allergies

What You Need To Know About Food Allergies

Symptoms of food allergies can range from mild to severe and may come suddenly or develop for several hours.

Because a person's immune system might react to very small amounts of allergens, food allergies are very dangerous and potentially life-threatening, especially if they affect breathing. Because of this, asthmatics have an increased risk of fatal allergic reactions to food.

Mild symptoms related to food allergies may include:

  • Sneezing
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose
  • Eyes watery and itchy
  • Swelling
  • Rash
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea

Severe symptoms of an allergic reaction to food are:

  • Difficulty in breathing, including wheezing
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue or throat
  • Itching (Itchy rash, Acne growing)
  • Dizzy or fainting
  • Nausea or vomiting

Milk allergy

Milk allergy is a reaction to whey or casein, a protein found in cow's milk. This condition is not the same as lactose intolerance. Milk allergy has been studied more than other food allergies.

The bad news is that children with milk allergies are far more likely to experience allergic reactions to other foods including eggs, soybeans, and peanuts.

Most children with a milk allergy also experience one or more other atopic diseases such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, or eczema.

Egg allergy

Egg allergy occurs most often in children and usually heals at a very young age. However, some people may remain allergic to eggs for the rest of their lives.

A person may be allergic to certain proteins in both egg yolks or egg whites. Someone with an allergy to egg yolk may be able to tolerate egg whites and vice versa. Some people are allergic to both.

Peanut allergy

Children with peanut allergies rarely recover from their sensitivity to peanuts, so peanut allergies usually become a lifelong disorder. Because of this, peanut allergy is very serious. Intentional exposure can occur at any time during one's life. Although rare, peanut allergies can cause anaphylactic shock. This condition is a severe allergic reaction that can limit breathing or cause a heart attack. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention in the form of epinephrine injections (EpiPen). A patient must be monitored for several hours after the injection to ensure that symptoms do not return.

Other common allergies

Little is known about soy and wheat allergies than the more common allergies discussed above. Likewise, little is known about fish allergies, shellfish, and tree nut allergies except that, like peanut allergies, they are generally a lifelong disorder.


Food allergies are usually diagnosed depending on the severity of the symptoms.

If the patient's symptoms are mild, your doctor may suggest keeping a food diary to record all the foods you eat or drink to determine the cause. Another way to diagnose mild food allergies is by removing certain foods from the diet and then slowly eating them again to find out if your symptoms are back.

In cases of more severe allergies, skin tests or blood tests can identify egg, milk, peanut, and shellfish allergies.

Treatment Options

Like other types of allergies, allergen avoidance is the best method. Anyone with food allergies must be careful when buying food in supermarkets or restaurants to ensure there are no allergens in food.

Mild symptoms may not require treatment at all, or antihistamines on the market can be used to treat symptoms.

For more serious allergic reactions, your doctor may prescribe steroid drugs. Steroids may have serious side effects and should not be used for more than a few days at a time.