Food Allergies

Jamison Chow, Journalist

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Food allergies are very common, and “…researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.9 million children under age 18. That’s 1 in 13 children, or roughly two in every classroom. About 30 percent of children with food allergies are allergic to more than one food.” According to, overall  4% – 6% of children and 4% of adults have a food allergy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A reaction to food may occur when a immune system overreacts to a specific ingredient. The 8 most common allergies are cows milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish,wheat, soy and fish. Some reactions that may occur include:


  • tingling or itching in the mouth
  • Hives, itching or eczema
  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat or other parts of the body
  • Wheezing, nasal congestion or trouble breathing
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting


Sometimes we can mistake food allergies for food intolerance. A true food allergy causes an immune system reaction that affects numerous organs in the body. A food intolerance is just a digestive problem. Some risk factor for food allergies include:

  • Family history. increased risk of food allergies is common if asthma, eczema, hives or allergies such as hay fever
  • Other allergies. One allergy and increases your chances to have more.
  • Age. Food allergies are more common in children, especially toddlers and infants. Fortunately, children typically outgrow allergies to milk, soy, wheat and eggs. Severe allergies and allergies to nuts and shellfish are more likely to be lifelong.
  • Asthma. Asthma and food allergy commonly occur together. When they do, both food allergy and asthma symptoms are more likely to be severe.