Food allergy is a group of disorders distinguished by the way the body’s immune system responds to specific food
proteins. People who have allergic reactions to inhaled substances, such as dust, mold or pollen, are more likely
to develop food allergies. About 35% of children with moderate to severe eczema (atopic dermatitis) also have
food allergies. These can range from mild skin reactions to severe and life-threatening reactions.
These foods cause over 90% of food allergy reactions:
- Milk (Cow’s milk)
- Peanuts (a legume related to peas)
- Tree nuts (such as pecans and walnuts)
Children will frequently outgrow an allergy to eggs, milk and soy. However, allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish
and shellfish usually continue into adulthood. Not eating the foods a person is sensitive to is the only proven
therapy for food allergies.
A severe allergic reaction to a food can involve many body organs and may develop rapidly. This reaction is
called anaphylaxis. Food is the leading cause of anaphylaxis in children. Anaphylaxis symptoms usually happen
immediately after the offending food is eaten. Sometimes, however, the symptoms subside, then return hours later.
In unusual cases, adverse food reactions might take hours to become evident. People who, when eating, show
hoarseness, difficulty talking, drooling, tongue swelling, choking, throat tightness, or changes in their level of
awareness need emergency medical treatment immediately.
Signs and symptoms of adverse food reactions may include any or several of the following:
- Chest tightness, shortness of breath or wheezing (a whistling sound when breathing).
- Skin reactions such as hives, skin rashes, itching or flushing.
- Nasal congestion or itchiness, a runny nose or sneezing.
- Itchy or teary eyes.
- Intestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, colic, abdominal cramps, or diarrhea.
- Itching/tingling/swelling of the lips, palate, tongue, or throat.
In the event of a severe reaction, self-injectable epinephrine should be given immediately. Then the person
should be transported to an emergency medical facility for further treatment.
READING FOOD LABELS
People who are allergic to milk should avoid the following foods and ingredients:
- Artificial butter flavor, butter, butter fat, butter oil, buttermilk
- Casein, caseinates, rennet casein
- Cheese, cream, cottage cheese, curds, whey
- Custard, pudding, yogurt
- Half & Half
- Lactalbumin, lactalbumin phosphate, lactoglobulin, lactulose
- All forms of milk: condensed, dry, evaporated, milk from goats or other animals, low-fat,malted, milkfat,
non-fat, powder, protein, skimmed, solids and wholes
- Sour cream, sour cream solids, sour milk solids
People who are allergic to eggs should avoid the following foods and ingredients:
- Albumin (albumen)
- Lysozyme (used in Europe)
- Meringue or meringue powder
- These items also may include egg protein: flavoring; lecithin; macaroni; marzipan; marshmallows;
nougat and pasta.
People who are allergic to peanuts should avoid the following foods and ingredients which are either related to
peanut or are manufactured or packaged in areas along with peanuts:
- Artificial nuts, beer nuts, ground nuts, mixed nuts, monkey nuts, nut pieces
- Cold pressed, expelled or extruded peanut oil or arachis oil
- Goobers, Nu-Nuts flavored nuts or Mandelonas (peanuts bleached, cut and flavored to taste like tree nuts
such as almond, walnut or hazelnuts)
- Peanuts, peanut butter, peanut flour
- These items may also include peanut protein: African, Chinese, Indonesian, Mexican, Thai and
Vietnamese dishes; baked goods; candy; chili; egg rolls; enchilada sauce; flavoring; marzipan;
nougat, and sunflower seeds .
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Teach children with food allergies not to accept food from classmates or friends. Make sure parents and
teachers know this as well.
- Wear a medical alert identification at all times.
- Read food labels to understand what ingredients are in a commercial food.
- Recognize the symptoms of an allergic reaction, particularly symptoms of anaphylaxis.
- Keep epinephrine and antihistamines readily available. All immediate family members and teacher
should know how to self-administer epinephrine.
SEE AN ALLERGIST / IMMUNOLOGIST
- There is a failure to respond to medical treatments or elimination diets.
- There is a history of anaphylaxis or a new anaphylactic reaction.
- Hospitalization has been required for severe food allergy reactions.
- Food allergy significantly worsens the symptoms of asthma, allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis
- There is uncertainty regarding the diagnosis and management of the food allergy.
- A child and/or parents need further education about food allergy.
Adapted from the AAAAI.org website. Food Allergy Patient Education