Food Allergies

Food Allergies

Food allergies occur when your body negatively reacts to consuming certain foods or drinks. Such allergies cause mild, moderate, or severe, sometimes even life-threatening problems in some people. They affect about 8% of children under five and up to 4% of adults.
The common symptoms of food allergies include:
  • Anaphylaxis 
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Tingling or itching in your mouth
  • Facial, tongue, throat, or lip swelling
  • Diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting
  • Dizziness, fainting, or lightheadedness
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rapid pulse
A woman is refusing to take some nuts in a jar

Immediate allergic reactions usually present within a few minutes or up to one hour after eating certain foods. Delayed allergic reactions usually occur several hours after ingestion. They could be mild or severe, occasionally even life-threatening. If you have a severe allergic reaction, you need immediate emergency treatment. Call 911 or get to the nearest hospital emergency room without delay.

A boy refusing to drink milk

Your Food Allergy Questions, Answered

What are some common food allergens?

The cause of food allergies isn’t clear. But like all allergies, they result when your immune system identifies normally harmless, even beneficial, substances; in this case, certain foods or drinks, as harmful. Common food allergens include:

  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Chicken eggs
  • Milk
  • Shellfish and fish
  • Wheat
  • Soy

You might have more than one food allergy. Treatment at the Allergy & Immunology Center can reduce worrisome symptoms and improve your quality of life. 

What are the risk factors for food allergies?

Things that can increase your risk of developing food allergies include having other allergies, a family history of food allergies, and asthma. It is important to repeat food allergy testing once a year because children sometimes outgrow food allergies when their digestive systems mature.

Early introduction (exposure) to certain foods, like peanuts, can reduce the chance of developing allergies to those foods. Ask Dr. Shilian if this is safe for your child and, if so, when would be the best time to introduce certain foods.

How does my provider diagnose food allergies?

Dr. Shilian reviews your medical history, checks your vital signs, and completes a physical exam to determine which food allergies you have. He offers allergy testing, including blood tests, skin prick tests, an elimination diet, or an oral food challenge. You receive small amounts of suspected food allergens during this challenge while Dr. Shilian observes your reaction.

How are food allergies treated?

To treat food allergies, you’ll need one or more of the following:

Emergency epinephrine

Using emergency epinephrine (an injection from a device like the EpiPen®) reduces severe or life-threatening allergic reactions until you’re able to receive medical attention.


Taking certain medications after you experience minor allergic reactions can reduce symptoms.

Oral immunotherapy

Oral immunotherapy exposes you to the foods you are allergic to, in small but increasing amounts over time, to improve the body’s tolerance to such foods. The process is done under medical supervision and is considered an individualized treatment modality, backed up by decades of research and is now FDA approved. Using OIT, we can introduce allergenic food into the normal diet, or in case of high-risk individuals, we introduce low doses in order to prevent severe reactions after accidental exposure.

Call the Allergy & Immunology Center or request an appointment online today to be screened and/or treated for food allergies.Telemedicine appointments are available. 

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