Symptoms and Signs of Food Allergy: Symptoms, Types, and Treatment

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Food Allergy: Symptoms, Types, and Treatment

A food allergy is an adverse immune system reaction to a particular food or compound that a person eats or swallows. Signs and symptoms can begin within minutes but some take hours to develop. Common symptoms include itching, rash development, hives or wheals. Swelling of the lips and mouth may occur along with abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Nasal stuffiness and itching of the eyes are also common. Severe signs and symptoms include difficulty breathing, swelling tongue, tightness or choking in the throat, chest tightness, rapid heartbeats, feeling dizzy and loss of consciousness – these signs and symptoms suggest the allergic reaction may be life threatening.

The cause of a food allergy is the person’s immune system overreacting to a compound (usually a protein) in the food. The majority of foods that may generate an allergic reaction are as follows: eggs, milk, peanuts, wheat, soy, treenuts, fish and shellfish. Some individuals have multiple food allergies.

Must Read Articles:


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.