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Food allergies

A food allergy occurs when the immune system responds to an allergen (an ingredient that is usually harmless) in food. This triggers an immune reaction, which can range from mild to severe.

The majority of food allergies in children are not severe and usually children will outgrow many allergies with time. Some allergies, particularly nut and seafood allergies are less likely to decrease with age.

Symptoms of a mild allergy include:

  • hives (red circular weals on the skin)
  • swelling of the face or around the mouth
  • vomiting
  • abdominal discomfort or pain.

Symptoms of severe allergy may include:

A severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) is a medical emergency. Call triple zero (000) immediately. Lay the person down. If they have an adrenaline injector and you are able to administer it, do so.

Some foods are more likely to cause allergies than others. These include:

  • dairy (including milk)
  • peanuts
  • walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, brazil nuts, pecans and other tree nuts
  • soy
  • grains that contain gluten (wheat, barley, rye and oats)
  • fish and shellfish.

Allergen testing

The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy recommends that you should speak to your doctor or specialist about the benefits and safety of allergen immunotherapy before commencing any treatment for a food allergy. For further information, visit the Choosing Wisely Australia website.

Follow the links below to find trusted information about food allergies.

Last reviewed: July 2016

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Whats the difference between food allergy and food intolerance? Food allergies and intolerances are often confused, as their symptoms can seem similar

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Dr Joe Kosterich talks about food allergies and sensitivities, including what they are and the differences between the two, common allergies and sensitivities, how to tell if you have a sensitivity, and the importance of reading food labels.

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Management of Food Allergy - Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)

Management of Food Allergy

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Kids' Health - Topics - Food allergies

Sometimes proteins in some foods can cause allergic reactions. The reaction happens soon after you have had that food, usually within 2 hours. Sometimes you and your doctor can find out what you are reacting to.

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Food allergy - Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)

Food allergy occurs in around 1 in 20 children and in about 2 in 100 adults. The most common triggers are egg, cow's milk, peanut, tree nuts, seafood, sesame, soy, fish and wheat.

Read more on ASCIA – Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy website

Food allergy FAQs - Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)

The following frequently asked questions (FAQ) and answers about food allergy are based on inquiries that have been received by, or forwarded to the Australasian Society of Clinical immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) since 1999. This document is regularly updated as new questions are received or new information becomes available

Read more on ASCIA – Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy website

Food allergies & food intolerance in kids | Raising Children Network

Whats the difference between food allergies and food intolerance in children? How do you reduce the risk of kids developing allergies? This guide explains.

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