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Food Allergies-New Understanding

Updated on September 4, 2019
Pamela99 profile image

I spent 22 years in the nursing profession. I enjoy writing, reading historical novels, gardening, and helping people live a healthier life.

Hives on the Arm

Understanding Food Allergies

The first thing we must understand with regards to food allergies is to evaluated, and diagnosed by a board-certified allergist. According to the Food Allergy Survival Guide, it is important to pay attention to how your body reacts to particular foods if you are having allergy symptoms.

Sometimes you may be able to figure out what food is a problem by a simple process of eliminating the likely culprits, and then re-introducing them slowly back into your diet.

However, there are three different types of allergic responses.

  1. The true food allergy is a hypersensitivity to a protein a particular type of food. It is the overreaction of the body’s immune system to a food or food ingredient that the body recognizes as foreign. Typical symptoms of food allergies are listed in the chart below. One out of three people loses the allergy if a food is not eaten for 1-3 years.
  2. There is a food intolerance that causes an adverse reaction to a food, food ingredient, or additive that does not involve the immune system. It is typically the digestive system that is affected. This is a reaction to small molecules when digested that affect some people adversely. Examples would be lactose or gluten intolerance, so the result would be nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Gluten intolerance is actually an autoimmune disease.
  3. There is a food sensitivity, which includes both the food allergy and intolerance that causes more serious reactions.

Anaphylaxis- Blood Vessels Dilate, Tissues Swells

Food Allergies - Mayo Clinic

Most Food Allergies Start in 1st Year of Life

Most food allergies develop in the first year of life affecting up to 8% of children according to the World Allergen Organization. Most children outgrow allergies, and only 2% of adults have food allergies. Food allergies are more common in children who have other allergic diseases, such as eczema.

Food allergies can be experienced in many different body paths from mild irritation to life-threatening anaphylactic responses. A true food allergy means being hypersensitive to a particular food and causes an inappropriate response from the immune system. These allergies are typically due to some type of protein. In a normal situation, the immune system reacts to foreign organisms, such as bacteria or viruses that are harmful by a rather complex system.

With regard to food allergens, the action by the immune system is similar. It recognizes the invader (food allergen), classifies it as dangerous, and utilizes its unique defense to destroy the invader by unleashing destructive chemicals. The first time this happens to an individual there is no systemic response, but the body becomes sensitized.

The next time the invader enters the system the substances poses a threat, as the body prepares a defense. It is alerted to the allergen as it knows it is a threat, and the body prepares a defense. The next step is the counterattack, which sets off a series of events. This causes blood vessels to dilate and tissue to swell causing discomfort, and there can be a wide variety of symptoms.

Peanuts - Common Food Allergy


Kids Living With Food Allergies

Common Food Allergy - Intolerance Problems

According to the World Allergy Organization of the More Common Food Allergies Chart, the following foods cause the greatest number of allergies and anaphylaxis.

For infants and young children: milk (cow/goat), chicken egg, peanut, tree nuts (walnuts, hazel/filbert, cashew, pistachio, Brazil, pine nut, almond) cause the most allergies that result in anaphylaxis. Wheat is the other most common allergy but without the anaphylaxis.

Other food items that are not common allergies in infants, but can also cause anaphylaxis (acute allergic reaction to an antigen).

  • Shellfish (shrimp, crab, lobster, oyster, scallops)
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Seeds (cotton, sesame, psyllium, and mustard)
  • Eggs
  • Cows milk

For older children and adults:

  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts, (walnuts, hazel/filbert, cashew, pistachio, Brazil, pine nut, almond)
  • Shellfish, (shrimp, crab, lobster, oyster, scallops)
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Seeds, (cotton, sesame, psyllium, and mustard)

These can all cause anaphylaxis.

Symtoms and Treatments

Symptoms of Food Sensitivity and Conditions can range from mild to severe and include the skin and mucous membranes; eczema, hives, redness, swelling of deeper tissues in the mouth and face, itching.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Respiratory tract; runny nose, sneezing, itchy, watery and reddened eyes, earache with fluid drainage, throat tightening (due to swelling), asthma, chest congestion, lung spasms and coughing. Throat tightening and difficulty breathing lead to anaphylaxis; see picture above.
  • Nervous system; migraines or other headaches, dizziness, spots before the eyes, listlessness, hyperactivity, fatigue, lack of concentration, irritability, depression
  • Other; muscle aches, dark circles under the eyes, sweating

Anaphylaxis symptoms develop extremely fast (in minutes or even seconds), and it is a 911 life-threatening emergency. There is a long list of possible physical reactions that might precede the person going into shock and dying. Look for hives, rash, confusion, wheezing, rapid heart rate, the throat will swell shut cutting off oxygen to the individual causing cardiac collapse and death.

The foods most commonly associated with anaphylactic reactions are peanuts, shellfish, tree nuts, and fish. People with known anaphylactic reactions carry a kit containing injectable adrenaline (epinephrine) and an oral antihistamine in case of accidental exposure.

There is no cure for food allergies except avoidance of the offending food. Symptoms may be treated, but this is not a cure.

There are doctors that use the RAST test, which mixes your child's blood with various food extracts to prove allergies are a problem. The reliability of this test may vary from one lab to another. The problem foods can be removed from your child's diet.

Treatment for food sensitivities may include Advair or Proventil for asthma. There are numerous antihistamines. Regular allergy shots are used after the appropriate allergy testing. There are other treatments for eczema as well.

Some allergy symptoms with viruses have responded to chiropractic care. Alternative treatments are also being done by the Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique, which is based on curing the pathways of energy in the body using acupressure points and kinesiology.

In Conclusion

If you or your child is exhibiting these types of symptoms the best thing to do is see a board-certified allergist. They can do the proper testing and start treatment as necessary. There is a wide variety of treatments depending on the type of symptoms you are exhibiting.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Submit a Comment
  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Caleb, I appreciate your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Momma Mia, I'm glad you liked the hub and I appreciate your comments.

  • Momma Mia profile image


    7 years ago from North Carolina

    Thank you for this Hub! Very useful and informative!

    People truly need to understand the differences to be more able to deal with those they love and ofcourse themselves.




  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    jagerfoods, This is a legitimate problem. Celiac disease can be confirmed by biopsy and many people have this disease now, but it was unheard of when I was young. My brother has this disease and stayed in denial about it (despite a positive biopsy) but he had nausea and horrible diarrhea frequently. Finally, he is following a gluten free and is feeling so much better. I wonder if the additives they put in food is the cause, or maybe the chemical they give livestock. I don't know the reason more people and many children are getting this disease. I hope this information is helpful.

  • jagerfoods profile image


    7 years ago from South Carolina, USA

    How much is being made of Gluten free products. Is this a fad by clever marketing gurus or is this a legitimate allergy?

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Peg, I have heard of stress causing hives, so that's certainly a possibility. I hope that won't happen to you again. Thanks so much for commenting.

  • PegCole17 profile image

    Peg Cole 

    8 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

    Good explanation of the different types of allergic reactions. I've never had any allergies until recently when out of the blue I broke out in hives all over my torso. Wow, was that bad news. Never did find out what it was - but I suspect it was stress related due to a series of events. Thanks for an informative hub.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    I think if they have eaten shellfish recently then they could have a reaction assuming they are very allergic, but probably not otherwise.

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    if someone smokes or shares any type of drug with someone who has eaten shellfish and the person that has a shellfish allergy does it to will they have an allergic reaction or cannot it not be transmitted like that?

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Supportmed and Mdlawyer, Thank you so much for your comments.

  • mdlawyer profile image


    9 years ago

    Excellent coverage on food allergies. Thank you.

  • Support Med. profile image

    Support Med. 

    9 years ago from Michigan

    Good hub! Peanuts is the one I hear about the most. Thank goodness that neither my daughter or I are allergic because we both love peanut butter and cashews, and I love fish and shrimp. Allergic reactions, are as you stated, not to be taken lightly. It's sad that such a thing can lead to a death. Great information.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Janny, Thank you so much for your comment.

  • JannyC profile image


    9 years ago

    Did a good job and did not leave any stone unturned in your details. Nicely done.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Shaze, Thanks for your comment.

  • shazwellyn profile image


    9 years ago from Great Britain

    This is very interesting. I like the way that you describe the difference between food allergy and food intolerance. Nice on Pamela! :)

  • skyfire profile image


    9 years ago

    I don't know if it's allergy or something but i can't eat some vegetables,and i;m not making excuses lol.I found trouble in throat while eating some veggies. maybe it's allergy. anyway,let's not get into off topic. :P

    Nice hub,pamela. :)

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Teresa, My brother suddenly developed the gluten allergy a couple of years ago and he had to stick carefully to the diet for Celiac Disease. He had vomiting and diarrhea for weeks, but now he can vary just a bit off the diet without ill effects but most of the time he sticks to it. Best of luck with your health and finding out exactly what you can or can't eat.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Ghost Whisper, Thank you for your comment and I relate to the dark circles from reading too many hours on the computer.

  • Ghost Whisper 77 profile image

    JG the IGNITER 

    9 years ago from The U.S. Government protects Nazi War Criminals

    Very informative hub Pam. I was reading it carefully due to some symptoms I have had and can't put my finger on what it is...wondering if it is a food allergy. The dark circles under my eyes though--they are from staying up too late reading hubs--so I will rule that out as a one of my symptoms. :)

  • Teresa Laurente profile image

    Maria Teresa Rodriguez - Laurente 

    9 years ago from San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A.

    Hi Pamela99, I do have food sensitivity; Gluten. I just developed this not too long ago; when I had corn bread in a restaurant cooked in rancid oil. That night I had a fever that lasted for about 5 days. I didn't really know the extent of it but thought of myself as envincible as I had always had good stomach for any food. But, after a few months I felt I did not feel at par any more. Although now, when I knew what it is I am careful although still trying to find my way what I can and cannot eat. Thank you for the reminder dear. More power.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Alexandria, Thank you for your comment.

  • alexandriaruthk profile image


    9 years ago from US

    great information and the figure helps there!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Darlene, I guess its the old rule, everything in moderation. Sometimes pineapple and pears will make my mouth sore. I have no idea what that's about either. Thanks for your comment.

  • Darlene Sabella profile image

    Darlene Sabella 

    9 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

    Really a great hub, I never had food allergies except dairy products. But, that is simple in these days, but sometime you just get a food allergy out of the blue. I was eating some pineapple the other day, maybe too much, then I broke out in a rash. So, now I know my body does not want to have this much pineapple. Thanks for sharing this wonderful hub.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Quill & Katiem, Thank you both so much for your comments.

  • katiem2 profile image

    Katie McMurray 

    9 years ago from Westerville

    Pam, Like the Allergy Hub, I especially liked the diagram of the sinus passage ways and the affects of allergies. Great Hub! Peace:)

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    Morning Pam... as always a great Hb and filled with gems of research and ones to open the eyes of many who suffer with allergies to food.


  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Tom, The peanut allergy has increased but I forgot to write the percentage at the time. I didn't see much about strawberries in particular but fruits are on the list and like I said earlier, my husband has to be careful with the strawberries.

    Sandy, Nancy and Hello, Thank you for your comments.

    Springboard, It probably was the figs and it may not be a problem today but why tempt fate?

  • Springboard profile image


    9 years ago from Wisconsin

    Had a strange event in my teens; hadn't had Fig Newtons in ages, and so one day at the store told my Mom I'd like to have them. Used to love them. The next day I broke out in hives from head to foot. Not sure what was in them, or if it was even the Fig Newtons but it was the only thing different about the days before the hives. Ended up in the hospital, got a couple of shots, and it was finally done with after about a week...

    But oh boy. Haven't eaten Fig Newtons since.

  • Cari Jean profile image

    Cari Jean 

    9 years ago from Bismarck, ND

    It seems that food allergies in children are on the rise - do you know why this is? I know some people connect it to too many vaccines? Not sure about that though.

  • nancy_30 profile image


    9 years ago from Georgia

    This was another great hub. Keep up the good work. The weeks almost over.

  • Sandyspider profile image

    Sandy Mertens 

    9 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

    Very informative hub.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 

    9 years ago from London, UK

    Thank you for such a comprehensive hub. You have done a great research and job there. It must be awful and scary.

  • Tom Whitworth profile image

    Tom Whitworth 

    9 years ago from Moundsville, WV


    I can remember when I was a little boy getting hives from strawberries but I ate them anyway. I must have outgrew it because I don't get them anymore.

    In your research did you come across whether or not peanut allergy has increased. I never used to hear about it.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    BPOP, My husband is like that with strawberries. Best to eat rarely in that case. Thanks for your comment.

  • breakfastpop profile image


    9 years ago

    Dear Pamela,

    Thanks for this important hub. I sometime react to shrimp and it scares me. If I eat shrimp too often I get an itchy swelling in my glands.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Habee and Carolina, It is really tough when someone has a severe allergy. You have to be so careful when cooking like you said, and eating out can be an even bigger problem. Thanks for your comments,

    Habee, You might be allergic to some bush or tree in your yard which is so common as compared to a food product. Good luck with figuring it out.

  • carolina muscle profile image

    carolina muscle 

    9 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

    My nephew is allergic to all soy products...and it's in just about everything these days... boy, is he hard to cook for!!

  • habee profile image

    Holle Abee 

    9 years ago from Georgia

    I have some weird allergy they still can't identify! Great info!


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