• Food Allergies

    Dr. John M. O'Loughlin discusses a case of food allergies with Andrew G. Villanueva, MD.A food allergy results when an individual's immune system overreacts to an ordinarily harmless food. Symptoms might include hives, swelling, vomiting, difficulty breathing, throat constriction and/or a loss of consciousness. Food intolerance is sometimes confused with food allergy. Intolerance differs from an allergy in that it does not involve the immune system. For instance, an individual may have uncomfortable abdominal symptoms after consuming milk. This reaction is most likely caused by a milk-sugar (lactose) intolerance. Your Lahey allergist can help you determine whether your condition is food intolerance or a true allergy by taking a careful history and performing either skin or blood allergy tests.

    In adults, the most common foods to cause allergic reactions include the following: 

    • Shellfish such as shrimp, crayfish, lobster and crab
    • Peanuts
    • Tree nuts such as walnuts
    • Fish
    • Eggs

    In children, the pattern is somewhat different. The foods most commonly found to cause reactions in children are these:

    • Eggs
    • Milk
    • Peanuts

    Adults usually do not lose their allergies, but children can sometimes outgrow them. Children are more likely to outgrow allergies to milk or soy than allergies to peanuts, fish or shrimp.

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