A food allergy occurs when the body’s immune system sees a certain food as harmful and reacts by causing symptoms. This is an allergic reaction. Foods that cause allergic reactions are called allergens.
Allergic reactions can involve the skin, mouth, eyes, lungs, heart, gut and brain. Mild and severe symptoms can lead to a serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis (anna-fih-LACK-sis). This reaction usually involves more than one part of the body and can worsen quickly. Anaphylaxis must be treated right away to provide the best chance for improvement and prevent serious, potentially life-threatening complications.
Allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish tend to persist lifelong. Allergies to milk, egg, wheat and soy often disappear with age, but not always.5
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction. Not all allergic reactions are anaphylactic.7
Medical Review September 2017. Updated April 2021.
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 Sicherer, S. H., & Sampson, H. A. (2014). Food allergy: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 133(2), 291-307.e5. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2013.11.020
 Branum, A., & Lukacs, S. (2019). Food Allergy Among U.S. Children: Trends in Prevalence and Hospitalizations. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Center for Health Statistics. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db10.htm#:~:text=From%201997%20to%202007%2C%20the
 U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2021). Food Allergies: What You Need to Know. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from: https://www.fda.gov/media/79019/download
 FoodSafety.gov. (2020). Protect Yourself from Food Allergies. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.foodsafety.gov/blog/protect-yourself-food-allergies
 Simons, F. E. R., Ardusso, L. R. F., Bilò, M. B., El-Gamal, Y. M., Ledford, D. K., Ring, J., Sanchez-Borges, M., Senna, G. E., Sheikh, A., & Thong, B. Y. (2011). World Allergy Organization Guidelines for the Assessment and Management of Anaphylaxis. World Allergy Organization Journal, 4(2), 13–37. https://doi.org/10.1097/wox.0b013e318211496c