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Food Allergy (cont.)

Food Allergy Prevention

The only sure way to prevent future food allergies is to avoid eating a trigger food. Take care because a trigger can be present in many different foods; only a trace amount can cause a reaction.

  • Learn to read food labels carefully and know which ingredients to avoid.
  • When eating in restaurants, the person should ask what ingredients are in foods they would like to order.
  • The person should avoid foods whose ingredients they can't confirm.
  • Work with a registered dietitian to plan safe menus.
  • Check into special food-allergy cookbooks and groups such as the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network that deal with issues specific to food allergies.

The person should be prepared to deal with an anaphylactic reaction if they are exposed to the culprit food again. If the person has had a severe reaction before, he or she should carry their epinephrine kit.

Never underestimate the danger of an allergic reaction.

Allergy shots and other forms of immunotherapy are being tested in some people who have persistent and disruptive food allergy symptoms.

  • The shots do not treat symptoms, but by altering the immune response they prevent future reactions. (This is referred to as immunotherapy.)
  • Treatment involves a series of shots, each containing a slightly greater amount of the antigen(s) that cause the reaction.
  • Ideally, the person will become "desensitized" to the antigen(s) over time.
  • While these are used for allergies to environmental factors such as pollens and insect venoms, their use in food allergies is still under investigation, and they and have not been proven to prevent allergic reactions.
  • The effectiveness of shots varies by individual.

Food Allergy Prognosis

Most people with food allergies do well if they are able to avoid their trigger foods. With time, many people lose their antibodies to the foods to which they once were allergic to, or "outgrow" the allergy.

  • This is most likely to happen if the trigger food is identified and eliminated from the diet.
  • This is especially true in children who, by about the age of 10 years, may outgrow their allergies -- mainly to milk and eggs.
  • Allergies to nuts, fish, and shellfish can last a lifetime.

Once a person has had a reaction to a food, he or she is more likely to have a severe reaction if exposed to the trigger.

Medically reviewed by Michael Manning, MD; American Board of Allergy & Immunology


Sicherer, Scott H., et al. Food Allergies." Medscape. 7 Mar. 2012.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/20/2017
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