Food allergy occurs when the body’s immune system reacts unusually after eating a certain food. It can be present at any age, from infancy to adulthood. Some common reactions include hives, itching or swelling in the mouth, tightening of throat and trouble breathing, stomach pain and vomiting.
These are known as “the big eight allergens” that account for about 90% of all food allergies.
- Shellfish, including shrimp, mussels, and crabs
- Tree nuts, like walnuts, almonds, pine nuts,hazelnuts, and cashews
In some cases, food allergies can cause anaphylaxis which seeks immediate medical attention.
Although allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish are often life-long, children commonly “outgrow” allergies to milk, eggs, wheat and soy, and there are now many evolving strategies to help with this process.
Other kinds of reactions to food that are not allergies include food intolerances (such as lactose or milk intolerance), and toxic reactions. Although symptoms may resemble those of food allergy, the triggers, symptom severity, and health implications differ substantially.