Food Allergy - Things You Need Know

Food allergy is the overreaction of the body’s immune system to certain substances in the diet and is essentially an immune response. Most of the reactions are mild, such as skin rash or stomach discomfort, in a few cases, the response is severe and even life-threatening, requiring emergency treatment.

Food allergy is family clustering. If family members have allergic signs such as hay fever, asthma, or eczema (atopic dermatitis), you are more likely to have food allergies.

Food allergies in children are more common than in adults. Food allergies are also common in atopic people. Children’s food allergies, especially allergies to milk, eggs, wheat, and soybeans, tend to improve gradually within 3-10 years of age. Food allergies that occur in adulthood often last for life.

Food allergies vs food intolerance

Many people think that they are allergic to food, but in fact they are food intolerant. Food intolerance is more common and symptoms are similar to mild food allergies, such as stomach discomfort. Food allergy is an immune response, typically mediated by IgE, and food intolerance is due to the lack of a specific enzyme or chemical that prevents the body from properly digesting food nutrients. Food intolerance is not dangerous, and severe food allergy can be fatal.

Common allergens

Food proteins that cause allergies are called food allergens.

  • Milk, eggs, peanuts, nuts, soybeans, wheat, fish, and shellfish are the common food allergens.
  • Milk, eggs, nuts, wheat and soy often cause food allergies in children;
  • Peanuts, nuts, fish and shellfish often cause food allergies in adolescents and adults.

Aspirin, exercise, and alcohol can increase the risk of serious allergic reactions.

Cross reaction

Being allergic to certain foods usually means being allergic to other similar foods, known as “cross-reactions”. People who are allergic to shrimp may also be sensitive to lobsters or crabs, people allergic to milk may need to evade goat milk, people allergic to eggs may be allergic to other eggs (such as duck, goose, and quail eggs). There are cross-allergies between different types of nuts.

Do you know these “allergy syndromes”?

Oral Sensitive Syndrome

It is a type of cross reaction. People who are allergic to pollen can experience allergic reactions to certain fruits and vegetables: For example, if you are allergic to ragweed, eating it can cause pruritus around the mouth. If you are allergic to birch pollen, eating apples can cause mouth and lip swelling. It is usually relieved quickly and does not affect other parts of the body.

Latex-fruit syndrome

People who are allergic to latex may also be allergic to bananas, kiwifruit, avocados and chestnuts.

Exercise induced food allergy

Some people have an allergic reaction to food only after exercise. This is called “exercise-induced food allergy.” During exercise, the body temperature rises, with symptoms such as pruritus, dizziness, sometimes urticaria, and even severe allergic reactions that may be fatal. In order to avoid the occurrence of “exercise-induced food allergy”, do not eat before or during the exercise.



* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.