Song Institute of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
Allergy & Immunology located in South Bay, Manhattan Beach, CA
While food allergies often appear early in life, affecting one in 13 children, they can suddenly develop at any age. Dr. Charles Song and Dr. Andrew Wong at the Song Institute of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology are the experts you need to determine the cause of your symptoms, whether food related or due to another problem. Food allergies can cause a serious, life-threatening reaction, so don’t wait to schedule an evaluation. Call the office in Manhattan Beach, California, or book an appointment online.
Food Allergies Q & A
What causes a food allergy?
While the exact cause of food allergies is still unknown, it’s clear that a food allergy is an abnormal over-reactive response to a particular food protein. Your immune system mistakes a food protein as a threat to your health and triggers an immune response by producing IgE antibodies and releasing inflammatory mediators.
Your chances of developing a food allergy are higher if you have asthma or a family history of atopic diseases such as asthma, eczema, or allergic rhinitis.
What symptoms develop during an allergic reaction to food?
One or more of these symptoms can occur within minutes to several hours after eating the offending food:
- Skin itching, redness, hives, or swelling
- Itchy mouth or ears
- Facial swelling
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Stomach pain
- Nasal congestion, sneezing, or a runny nose
- Coughing, wheezing, or difficulty breathing
Can you have a severe reaction?
Food allergies are known for their potential to cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis. This represents a medical emergency that needs quick attention, so call 9-1-1 immediately or use your epinephrine autoinjector if you have one.
Symptoms of a severe reaction include:
- Swelling of lips, tongue, and/or throat
- Trouble swallowing
- Shortness of breath
- Turning blue
- Feeling faint or weak
- Loss of consciousness
- Chest pain
What are the most common food allergies?
Even though you can develop an allergy to any protein-containing food, eight types of food account for 90% of all food allergies:
- Tree nuts
Children often outgrow allergies to milk and eggs, while allergies to peanuts and tree nuts tend to persist.
What is a food intolerance?
A food intolerance is different from a food allergy because it does not arise from an immune response. Food intolerances involve your digestive tract, where they’re often caused by enzyme problems that make it difficult to digest a particular food or beverage. (Dairy or more specifically lactose, intolerance is a good example.) As a result, you experience symptoms such as gas, bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
How are food allergies treated?
Although immunotherapy studies are being fast-tracked in an effort to find treatments for food allergies, there’s currently only one treatment option: You must avoid the food or beverage responsible for your allergic reaction. Foods that are produced in the United States must carry a warning on the label alerting you to whether any of the eight common allergens are in the product.
It’s extremely important to determine exactly which foods you have an allergy to, so you can be careful to avoid your specific triggers. Your doctor at the Song Institute of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology can perform allergy skin testing or blood IgE testing to evaluate your food allergies. In some cases, you may need an in-clinic oral food challenge if the results of your other tests are inconclusive.
You may receive a prescription and training for an epinephrine auto-injector so that it’s available in the event you have a severe reaction.
Please don’t take chances with a food allergy. Schedule an evaluation by calling the Song Institute of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology or using the online booking tool.