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Food allergies

2-minute read

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:

  • trouble breathing
  • difficulty talking more than a few words and/or a hoarse voice
  • wheeze
  • cough
  • swelling or tightness of the throat
  • collapse
  • light-headedness or dizziness
  • diarrhoea
  • swelling of the tongue
  • going pale and floppy (in young children)

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)
  • eggs
  • peanuts
  • tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, brazil nuts and pecans)
  • 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: June 2018

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Top results

Food allergy information | myVMC

Food allergies are common in children and adults. Peanuts, milk and dairy products, eggs, meat and fish are the most common food allergens.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Food allergy -

A food allergy is an immune response triggered by eating specific foods that cause certain well known symptoms to develop.

Read more on myDr website

Allergy - Food Allergies and Eczema | Sydney Children's Hospitals Network

Is food allergy the cause of eczema? No

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

Food allergies (food intolerance) information video | myVMC

Food allergies and insensitivities like peanut allergy, milk allergy and gluten intolerance can cause rash, other allergy symptoms or anaphylaxis.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Food allergies in children and teenagers | Raising Children Network

If your child has food allergies, your child must avoid the foods shes allergic to. You need to know the symptoms and how to treat an allergic reaction.

Read more on Raising Children Network website

Food allergy: Egg allergy information | myVMC

Egg allergies cause immune responses (allergic reactions), such as hives, when eggs are eaten. They usually begin in babies or toddlers.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

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

Kids' Health - Topics - Food allergies - for children

Sometimes proteins in some foods can cause allergic reactions

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Baby food allergies and reflux video | Raising Children Network

This short, informative video looks at food reactions and food allergies in babies, including information about reflux and lactose intolerance.

Read more on Raising Children Network website

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