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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 »
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 intolerances ...more misdiagnosis »
Home medical tests possibly related to Food allergies:
Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Food allergies, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.
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 ...Food allergies Treatments
Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Food allergies may include:
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Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed as possibly helpful for Food allergies may include:
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Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Food allergies may include these symptoms:
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Food allergies or food intolerances affect nearly everyone at some point. People often... (Source: excerpt from Food Allergy and Intolerances, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID)
The list below shows some of the causes of Food allergies mentioned in various sources:
This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Food allergies. Of the 6 causes of Food allergies that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:
The following list of conditions have 'Food allergies' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.
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