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What are food allergies?

When some people eat certain foods, even a tiny bit, they can have an allergic reaction, such as a rash, runny nose or itchy eyes. Some could even have a more serious reaction that can cause death. That type of reaction is called anaphylaxis (an-a-fi-lak-sis).

A food that causes an allergic reaction is called a food allergen. It's usually the protein part of the food (also called a food protein) that cause the allergic reaction.

Which foods cause allergic reactions?

In children, six foods cause almost all food allergy reactions:

. Milk

. Egg

. Peanuts

. Wheat

. Soy

. Tree nuts (like walnuts and pecans)

Both raw and cooked foods can cause allergic reactions. (Cooking a food does not prevent it from causing an allergic reaction.)

Children will often outgrow an allergy to eggs, milk and soy.

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

. Peanuts

. Tree nuts

. Fish

. Shelfish

How can I tell if I have food allergies?

If you think you are allergic to a food, an allergist/immunologist will do tests to find out which foods you are allergic to.

To comfirm your diagnosis, an allergist may perform a food challenge. Food challenges are done by consuming the food in a medical setting to determine if that food causes a reaction.

Once you know which foods you are allergic to, your allergist can help you develope a treatment plan so you can be healthy and safe.


American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology