Food allergies

bell peppers

and intolerances

A food allergy is an abnormal response to a food by your immune system. A food allergy may cause itching and swelling; red, raised skin bumps (hives); wheezing or difficulty breathing; and in rare cases, anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction.

True food allergies are rare. Most reactions to foods are caused by food intolerances. Unlike an allergy, food intolerance does not involve the immune system, is not severe, and usually does not come on quickly. Reactions may also be caused by food additives, or food poisoning. Food allergies are most common in children, but most children outgrow food allergies within a few years.

Foods that most often cause allergic reactions include:

  • peanuts
  • tree nuts such as walnuts and almonds
  • shellfish and fish
  • eggs
  • wheat
  • soy products
  • milk and dairy products

Get help with common food allergies and intolerances:

Reviewed by: Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD, April 2016
Additional Kaiser Permanente reviewers

© 2016 Kaiser Permanente

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