What is Food Allergy?
Food allergy is a specific reaction of the body’s
immune system to a food or food proteins. A food
allergy reaction occurs when the immune system
mistakenly attacks a food protein. Ingestion of the
offending food may trigger the sudden release of
chemicals, including histamine, resulting in
symptoms of an allergic reaction. The symptoms
may be mild (rashes, hives, itching, swelling, etc.)
or severe (trouble breathing, wheezing, loss of
consciousness, etc.). A food allergy can be
potentially fatal. Scientists estimate that as many
as 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies.
What are the most common food
In Western Hemisphere countries, experts attribute
90 percent of all food-allergic reactions to eight
foods: cow’s milk, egg, soy, wheat, peanut, tree
nut (e.g, almonds, walnuts, and pecans), fish and
crustacean shellfish. Sesame seed also seems to be
an increasingly important cause of food allergy in
some parts of the world. Experts do not know why
some foods cause more allergy than others. Very
frequently, patients with pollen allergies have mild
cross-reactions to fresh fruits, such as apples,
peaches, cherries and to raw vegetables, such as
carrots and celery.
A skin prick test or a blood test (such as the
Immulite or ImmunoCap test) for IgE antibodies is
commonly used to begin to determine if an allergy
exists. A skin prick test is usually less expensive
and can be done in the doctor’s office.
Positive skin prick tests or immunoassay test
results will show that IgE is present in the body,
but cannot alone predict that a reaction will occur if
the patient were to eat a suspected allergy-causing
The results of the tests are combined with other
information, such as a history of symptoms and the
result of a food challenge to determine whether a
food allergy exists.
Always be prepare in case of an allergic reaction.
Having food allergies no matter how little the
reactions might seem, you are at risk of one day
having a severe reaction to the same foods you
have been eating for years.
Remember to always "self carry" the epinephrine
life saving medication on you. Carrying the
Epipen's inside an undergarment leg holster, waist
holder guarantees you will have immediate access
to your medication at all times.
1. "About Food Allergies", The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network.
2 “Food Allergies: Advice from your Allergist,” ACAAI: American
College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology
3. Soutter, Swain, and Loblay, “Peanut Allergy”