Condition Spotlight

Many people with food allergies wonder whether their condition is permanent. There is no definitive answer. Allergies to milk, eggs, wheat and soy may disappear over time, while allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish tend to be lifelong.

We focus on those foods that tend to have the most common problems and try to provide reasonable substitutes.

What Is a Dairy Allergy?

A dairy allergy is one of the most common food allergies, and it is particularly prevalent in young children. Up to three percent of children in western populations are estimated to be allergic to dairy, and while Read More

Common Types of Allergy Tests

Allergies happen when the immune system begins to fight substances that are actually quite harmless to the body e.g. pollen or food. Common symptoms of an allergic reaction include watery eyes, sneezing attacks, an itchy Read More

Food allergies are extremely common. In fact, they affect around 5% of adults and 8% of children — and these percentages are rising. While any food can cause an adverse reaction, eight types of food account for about 90 percent of all reactions:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Wheat
  • Soy

Not everyone who experiences symptoms after eating certain foods has a food allergy or needs to avoid that food entirely; for instance, some people experience an itchy mouth and throat after eating a raw or uncooked fruit or vegetable. This may indicate oral allergy syndrome – a reaction to pollen, not to the food itself. The immune system recognizes the pollen and similar proteins in the food and directs an allergic response to it. The allergen is destroyed by heating the food, which can then be consumed with no problem.

People allergic to a specific food may also potentially have a reaction to related foods. A person allergic to one tree nut may be cross-reactive to others. Those allergic to shrimp may react to crab and lobster. Someone allergic to peanuts – which actually are legumes (beans), not nuts – may have problems with tree nuts, such as pecans, walnuts, almonds and cashews; in very rare circumstances they may have problems with other legumes (excluding soy).

Some goods also may be labeled with precautionary statements, such as “may contain,” “might contain,” “made on shared equipment,” “made in a shared facility” or some other indication of potential allergen contamination. There are no laws or regulations requiring those advisory warnings and no standards that define what they mean. If you have questions about what foods are safe for you to eat, talk with your allergist.

Be extra careful when eating in restaurants. Waiters (and sometimes the kitchen staff) may not always know the ingredients of every dish on the menu. Depending on your sensitivity, even just walking into a kitchen or a restaurant can cause an allergic reaction.