Food Allergies

+Overview
People with food allergies have an allergic reaction when they eat certain foods. It is estimated that twelve million Americans have food allergies and this number may be increasing. Food allergic reactions can be severe and even fatal.
+What are Food Allergies?
When some people eat certain foods, even very small amounts, they can have an allergic reaction. A food that causes an allergic reaction is called a food allergen. Food allergens are usually proteins that are recognized by a person’s immune system as being foreign. When the person eats this food allergen, the immune system overreacts and causes the symptoms of food allergy (see below).
+What Causes Food Allergies?

In children, the six foods listed below cause almost all food allergy reactions. Children usually outgrow an allergy to eggs, milk, and soy.

  • - Milk
  • - Eggs
  • - Peanuts
  • - Tree nuts (like pecans)
  • - Wheat
  • - Soy

In adults, four foods cause almost all food allergy reactions:

  • - Peanuts
  • - Tree nuts
  • - Fish
  • - Shellfish
+What are the Symptoms of Anaphylaxis?
Symptoms of food allergy can vary from simply mild itching to severe reactions termed anaphylaxis (see anaphylaxis page). Signs of food allergies include:

  • - Rash or itching
  • - Swelling (such as lips and eye)
  • - Vomiting, stomach ache or diarrhea
  • - Difficulty breathing, wheezing
  • - Hoarseness, throat tightness, or lump in throat
[toggle title="How do I know if I have Food Allergies and what can be done?">
If you think you are allergic to a food, you should see an allergist/immunologist who can perform the appropriate testing to determine if you are indeed allergic to a food, and if so, what food(s) you are allergic to. The best treatment for food allergies is to avoid the food you are allergic too. This is often harder than it sounds due to the reality that many foods are “hidden” as ingredients in many other foods. For example, some chilies contain peanut. Your allergist can help educate you in how to avoid foods more effectively. For more information on food allergies visit www.foodallergy.org.

The Texas Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Society (TAAIS) is a group of more than 220 board-certified Allergists/Immunologists in Texas.

An Allergist/Immunologist is a physician, usually an Internist or Pediatrician, who has had special training and experience in the field of Allergy and Immunology and who is considered to be an expert in the diagnosis and management of immune system disorders such as asthma, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), eczema, urticaria (hives), drug reactions, food allergies, immune deficiencies, and all general aspects of anaphylaxis.

A Board Certified Allergist/Immunologist is a physician who has passed the certifying examination of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. A list of Board Certified Allergists can be found here. Those with “ABAI” under Board Certification are Board Certified Allergists/Immunologist.