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Food allergies

Food allergies: Introduction

Food allergies are caused by an over-reaction of the immune system to a particular food or food additive. This substance is called a food allergen. Food allergies, also called allergic reactions to food, are a common, but abnormal, reaction of the immune system.

The immune system is made up of special cells that circulate throughout the body to defend the body against foreign substances, such as viruses and bacteria. For people with food allergies, the immune system is overzealous and reacts when they eat normally harmless substances, such as peanuts. This results in the release of the chemical histamine, which causes the swelling, inflammation, and itching of tissues that is characteristic of food allergies.

Common food allergies include those to peanuts and other nuts, legumes, including soybeans, fish and shellfish, cow's milk, wheat, and egg whites.

When a person has food allergies, exposure to a specific food allergen can cause a wide variety of symptoms, depending on the specific food allergies, the type of exposure and the severity of the food allergies. Symptoms can affect the respiratory system, the skin and/or the gastrointestinal system. A very severe allergic reaction is called an anaphylactic reaction, which can be fatal if not treated immediately. For more information on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of food allergies.

Making a diagnosis of food allergies includes performing a complete evaluation that includes a medical history, including symptoms, and physical examination. The diagnostic process generally involves keeping a food log to record the types of foods that trigger an allergic reaction. An elimination diet may also be used to help in the diagnostic process. An elimination diet involves eliminating the foods that may be causing an allergic reaction one by one to see which particular foods are causing symptoms.

Diagnostic testing may include skin patch testing. A blood test called a radioallergosorbent test (RAST) may also be done to help identify the food or food additives that are causing food allergies.

It is possible that a diagnosis of food allergies can be missed or delayed because symptoms can be similar to symptoms of other conditions and diseases, such as celiac disease and food intolerances. For more information on diseases and conditions that can mimic food allergies, refer to misdiagnosis of food allergies.

Patient compliance with a good treatment plan can control symptoms of food allergies to a degree that allows a person to live a normal active life. Treatment plans center around avoiding the foods that cause an allergic reaction. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of food allergies. ...more »

Food allergies: Food allergies or food intolerances affect nearly everyone at some point. People often have an unpleasant reaction to something ... more about Food allergies.

Food allergies: Immune over-reaction to an eaten food. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Food allergies is available below.

Food allergies: Symptoms

People who have food allergies can experience a wide variety of symptoms that can affect the respiratory system, skin, and gastrointestinal system. A symptom can occur alone or in combination with multiple symptoms.

Respiratory symptoms include stuffy nose, runny nose, shortness of breath, itching and swelling of the lips, mouth and throat. ...more symptoms »

Food allergies: Treatments

The most effective treatment plan for food allergies uses a multifaceted approach. Treatment plans are also individualized to best address the specific cause and severity of the food allergies, and the patient's age and medical history. In some cases, children might "grow out" of food allergies.

Treatment of food allergies begins with the prevention of allergic ...more treatments »

Food allergies: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of food allergies may be overlooked or delayed because symptoms may be mild in some people and/or may not occur very often. In addition, some symptoms, such as runny nose, vomiting or diarrhea can mimic symptoms of other conditions, such as a cold, food poisoning, gastroenteritis, influenza, lactose intolerance and other food ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Food allergies

Treatments for Food allergies

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Food allergies:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Food allergies?

Food allergies: Related Patient Stories

Food allergies: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Food allergies.

Alternative Treatments for Food allergies

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Food allergies may include:

Types of Food allergies

  • Peanut allergies - not common but often a severe reaction
  • Tree nut allergies - e.g. walnuts
  • Shellfish allergies - lobster, crayfish, shrimp, prawns, crabs, etc.
  • Egg allergies
  • Milk allergies - particularly in infants and young children
  • more types...»

Diagnostic Tests for Food allergies

Test for Food allergies in your own home

Click for Tests
  • Diet diary
  • Elimination diet - remove the suspect food and see if the allergy is avoided.
  • Skin challenge tests
  • Diet changes - chaging the diet can test whether a particular food is the cause.
  • Double-blind food challenge
  • more tests...»

Food allergies: Complications

Review possible medical complications related to Food allergies:

Causes of Food allergies

Read more about causes of Food allergies.

More information about causes of Food allergies:

Disease Topics Related To Food allergies

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Food allergies:

Food allergies: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Food allergies

Mild worm infections undiagnosed in children: Human worm infestations, esp. threadworm, can be overlooked in some cases, because it may cause only mild or even absent symptoms. Although the most common symptoms are anal itch (or...read more »

Mesenteric adenitis misdiagnosed as appendicitis in children: Because appendicitis is one of the more feared conditions for a child with abdominal pain...read more »

Blood pressure cuffs misdiagnose hypertension in children: One known misdiagnosis issue with hyperension, arises in relation to the simple equipment used to test blood pressure. The "cuff" around the arm to measure...read more »

Children with migraine often misdiagnosed: A migraine often fails to be correctly diagnosed in pediatric patients. These patients are not the typical migraine sufferers, but migraines can also occur in children. See misdiagnosis of...read more »

Chronic lung diseases hard to diagnose: Some of the chronic lung diseases are difficult to diagnose. Even the well-knowns conditions such as asthma or lung cancer often fail to be diagnosed early. Some of the chronic lung...read more »

Food allergies: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research related physicians and medical specialists:

Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Food allergies

Research quality ratings and patient safety measures for medical facilities in specialties related to Food allergies:

Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Food allergies, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Food allergies: Rare Types

Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:

Latest Treatments for Food allergies

Evidence Based Medicine Research for Food allergies

Medical research articles related to Food allergies include:

Click here to find more evidence-based articles on the TRIP Database

Food allergies: Animations

Prognosis for Food allergies

Research about Food allergies

Visit our research pages for current research about Food allergies treatments.

Prevention of Food allergies

Prevention information for Food allergies has been compiled from various data sources and may be inaccurate or incomplete. None of these methods guarantee prevention of Food allergies.

  • Exclusive breastfeeding for 6-12 months - avoids giving the baby milk or soy allergens in formula too early.
  • Delaying infant solids - this also delays or avoids exposuring the baby to allergens.
  • more preventions...»

Statistics for Food allergies

Food allergies: Broader Related Topics

Food allergies Message Boards

Related forums and medical stories:

User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about Food allergies, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

Article Excerpts about Food allergies

Food allergies or food intolerances affect nearly everyone at some point. People often have an unpleasant reaction to something they ate and wonder if they have a food allergy. One out of three people either say that they have a food allergy or that they modify the family diet because a family member is suspected of having a food allergy. But only about three percent of children have clinically proven allergic reactions to foods. In adults, the prevalence of food allergy drops to about one percent of the total population. (Source: excerpt from Food Allergy and Intolerances, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID)

 

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