The prevalence of food allergy among children ranges between 3% – 5%. But it increases more in children who suffer from atopic dermatitis. Differently, among adults, the prevalence of the disease ranges between 1% – 2%. This article provides you with everything you need to know about food allergies.

Because the intestinal mucosal protective mechanisms are immature in the first months after birth, the intestine absorbs large amounts of allergen food particles, which stimulates the production of Immunoglobulin E-type allergic antibodies, or other local immune reactions.

80% of children with allergies to milk, soy, or eggs develop an ability to accept these foods by the age of three, while allergies to peanuts, nuts, and fish are generally permanent.

Food allergy symptoms

The most common signs and symptoms of a food allergy include:

  • Tingling or itching in the mouth.
  • Urticaria, itching, or eczema.
  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue, throat, or other parts of the body.
  • Nasal congestion.
  • Breathing difficulties.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting.
Skin rash

Symptoms of anaphylaxis

In some people, a food allergy can trigger a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This can cause life-threatening symptoms, including:

  • Constriction and tightening of the airways.
  • A swollen throat or a feeling of a lump in the throat that makes breathing difficult.
  • A sharp drop in blood pressure.
  • Pulse velocity.
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or loss of consciousness.
  • 3. Symptoms that require going to the emergency

The most prominent of these symptoms include the following:

  • A narrowing of the airways, making it difficult to breathe.
  • A sharp drop in blood pressure.
  • Pulse velocity.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.

Emergency treatment for anaphylaxis is critical, as, if untreated, it can cause coma or even death.

Food allergy causes and risk factors

The main causes and risk factors of food allergy include:

Causes of food allergy


Food allergy occurs when the immune system mistakenly treats proteins in food as a pathogen. As a result, a number of chemicals are released and these are the substances that cause allergy symptoms.

Almost any food can cause an allergic reaction. But there are some foods that are responsible for most food allergies. The most common foods that cause allergic reactions are:

  • Milk.
  • Egg.
  • Peanuts.
  • Walnut.
  • Fish.
  • Oysters.
  • Wheat.
  • Sesame.
  • Soybean.
  • Some fruits and vegetables such as peaches, apricots, and others.

Food allergy caused by exercise

Eating certain foods may cause itchiness, dizziness, and even anaphylaxis soon after you start exercising. Not eating for a few hours before exercising and avoiding certain foods may help prevent these problems.

Food intolerance and other reactions

Food intolerance or reaction to another substance you eat may cause the same signs and symptoms as a food allergy, such as nausea, vomiting, cramping, and diarrhea.

Depending on the type of food intolerance you have, you may be able to eat small amounts of problem foods without a reaction. But, by contrast, if you have a true food allergy, even a small amount of food may trigger an allergic reaction.

The most well-known of these cases include:

Lack of an enzyme necessary to fully digest food

You may not have adequate amounts of some enzymes needed to digest some foods.

Food poisoning

Sometimes food poisoning can resemble an allergic reaction. For example, the bacteria in spoiled tuna and other fish can create a toxin that leads to harmful reactions.

Allergy to food additives

Some people experience gastrointestinal reactions in addition to other symptoms after taking certain food additives.

Histamine toxicity

Some fish, such as tuna or mackerel, that are not refrigerated properly and that contain large amounts of bacteria, may also contain high levels of histamine that elicit symptoms similar to those of a food allergy.

Celiac disease

Medical allergy alert

While celiac disease is sometimes referred to as gluten sensitivity, it doesn’t lead to anaphylaxis.

Food allergy risk factors

The main risk factors include the following:

Family history

You are at increased risk of developing a food allergy such as asthma, eczema, and hives.

Other Allergies

If you already have an allergy to one food, you are more likely to develop an allergy to another type of food. Similarly, if you have other types of allergic reactions, such as hay fever or eczema, your risk of developing a food allergy is greater.


Food allergies are more common in children, especially young children and infants. As you grow older, your digestive system matures, and your body is less likely to absorb food or food ingredients that cause allergies.

The crisis

Asthma and food allergy usually occur together. When this happens, food allergy and asthma symptoms are likely to be more severe.

Food allergy complications

Complications of a food allergy can include:

  • Anaphylaxis: This is a life-threatening allergic reaction.
  • Atopic dermatitis (eczema): A food allergy may cause a skin reaction, such as eczema.

Food allergy diagnosis

The following tests can help a doctor diagnose a food allergy:

Skin prick test

A health care professional places the diluted foods on the person’s arm and gently punctures the skin. Any reaction, such as itching, swelling, or redness, indicates that the person may have an allergy. People may need to repeat this test several times.

Blood test

This test looks for antibodies to specific food proteins and can indicate an allergy.

The Blind Oral Food Challenge under the supervision of a physician

This is the most scientific way to accurately diagnose a food allergy as a doctor gives a person the food allergen in increased amounts, and monitors symptoms under close supervision.

Food allergy treatments

Here are the different types of allergy treatments:

Simple food allergy treatment

For a mild allergic reaction, over-the-counter medications or antihistamines may help reduce symptoms. These medications can be taken after exposure to an allergen to help relieve itching. However, antihistamines cannot treat a severe allergic reaction.

Treatment of severe food allergies

You may need an emergency epinephrine injection for a severe allergic reaction and go to the emergency room.

Many people with allergies carry an epinephrine auto-injector. This device is a combined syringe and concealed needle that injects a single dose of medication when pressed into your thigh.

Food allergy prevention

The most important prevention methods include:

  • Breastfeeding for a sufficient period of time.
  • Refraining from eating foods that cause allergies.
  • Knowing what you eat and drink.
  • Consulting a physician about prescribing epinephrine in an emergency setting.
  • Be careful in restaurants about the ingredients used in preparing meals.
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