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Quick Facts

Food Allergy

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Jan 2021| Content last modified Jan 2021
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What is a food allergy?

What foods cause allergic reactions?

Almost any food can cause an allergic reaction. The most common causes depend on the person's age.

For infants and young children the most common triggers are:

  • Eggs

  • Milk

  • Wheat

  • Peanuts

  • Soybeans

In older children and adults the most common triggers are:

  • Nuts

  • Seafood

What are the symptoms of a food allergy?

In children, food allergy symptoms may change as the child ages.

Babies may show symptoms like:

  • Rash

  • Throwing up

  • Diarrhea

Children 1 year old and older may have:

  • Rash

  • Wheezing (a whistling sound when breathing)

  • Runny nose

By about age 10, food allergies often go away (such as a milk allergy).

In adults and older children, food allergy symptoms may be more severe and can include:

How can doctors tell if I have a food allergy?

Your doctor may test for a food allergy in one or more of these ways:

  • Skin prick test, which involves putting a tiny amount of the food on your skin and then poking it with a needle to check for a reaction

  • A blood test

  • Elimination diet, which involves not eating the foods that might be causing the allergy, and then adding them back in one at a time to figure out which food is causing problems

How do doctors treat a food allergy?

The treatment is to avoid eating the food that causes your allergy symptoms. To help with your symptoms, your doctor may have you:

  • Take antihistamine pills for hives and swelling

  • Carry an epinephrine shot to use if you have severe symptoms and to prevent an anaphylactic reaction

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