Food allergy symptoms occur most often in babies and children but can appear at any age. Foods that you have eaten for years without problems can cause allergies.
An allergy occurs when something causes your body’s natural defenses to overreact. More than 50 million Americans have an allergy of some kind, but food allergies are rare. Up to 4 percent of adults have food allergies.
By using caution and carefully following an allergist’s advice, you can bring food allergy under control. Please contact your allergist with further questions and concerns about food allergy treatment.
Food allergy causes:
The body’s natural defense network is called the immune system. It keeps you healthy by fighting off infections and other dangers to good health. Most people have no problem eating many kinds of foods. An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system attacks a specific food or something in a food by mistake. This battle causes:
- Blood vessels to swell up,
- Smooth muscles to contract, and
- Skin areas to become red, itchy and swollen
Why do I have food allergy?
If both your parents have allergies, you have about a 75 percent chance of being allergic. If one of your parents is allergic, or if one of your relatives from either side has allergies, you have a 30-40 percent chance of having some form of allergy yourself. If neither parent has allergy, the chance is only 10-15 percent.
The amounts of a food or a kind of food you eat, and how often you eat, it may be important to why you become food allergic.
Which foods are most likely to cause allergy?
Almost any food can start an allergy. Peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish often cause severe food allergies.
Someone allergic to a food may also react to related foods. A person allergic to walnuts may also react to pecans. Persons allergic to shrimp may also react to crab and lobster. A person allergic to peanuts may have problems with soy, peas or certain kinds of beans.
Most food allergy patients only react to one or two foods. Someone allergic to pecans may not have to stop eating all nuts. This should be discussed with your allergist.
For additional resources on food allergies, visit the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. For the Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States visit the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.