Food allergy

Alternative Names

Allergy to food

Definition of Food allergy

A food allergy is an exaggerated immune response triggered by eggs, peanuts, milk, or some other specific food.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Normally, your body’s defends against potentially harmful substances, such as bacteria, viruses, and toxins. In some people, an immune response is triggered by a substance that is generally harmless, such as a specific food.

Symptoms

Symptoms usually begin immediately, within 2 hours after eating. Rarely, the symptoms may begin hours after eating the offending food.

Signs and tests

In severe reactions, you may have and blocked airways.

Treatment

The only proven treatment for a food allergy is to avoid the food. Other treatments, including allergy shots and probiotics, have not been clearly proven to help with food allergies.

Expectations (prognosis)

Avoiding the offending foods may be easy if the food is uncommon or easily identified. However, you may need to severely restrict your diet, carefully read all package ingredients, and ask detailed questions when eating away from home.

Review

Paula J. Busse, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Clinical Immunology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 6/29/2010

Food guide pyramid
Anaphylaxis
Food allergies
Read food labels
Dermatitis, perioral
Antibodies

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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