Catherine Fuller, MD
Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology Specialist located in West Los Angeles, CA
As many as 8% of children and 3% of adults experience food allergies with some at risk for a life-threatening allergic reaction. While there is no cure for a food allergy, some children outgrow them. If you suspect a food allergy, call or schedule an appointment online with Catherine Fuller, MD, for comprehensive allergy testing and treatment options. Dr. Fuller is an allergy, asthma and immunology specialist treating patients of all ages at her practice in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles practice.
What is a food allergy?
People with food allergies experience an immune system overreaction soon after eating a specific food. Your immune system mistakenly identifies the food as a harmful substance. Food allergy symptoms range from wheezing, vomiting, hives, and life-threatening anaphylaxis reactions.
Is food intolerance the same as a food allergy?
Many people confuse food intolerance with a food allergy, but they are not the same. Food allergies affect the immune system causing hives or anaphylaxis. Food intolerance involves the digestive system. Food intolerances are sensitivities to particular foods that may result in intestinal gas, diarrhea, or abdominal pain. Lactose intolerance is common in those eating dairy. Wheat intolerance can cause bloating and rashes. The most serious end of this spectrum is Celiac Disease, which must be treated by a Gastroenterologist.
What are the symptoms of food allergies?
Allergic reactions can be mild or severe, depending on the intensity of your food allergy. For some people, a food allergy may cause discomfort temporarily, while others experience severe symptoms or a life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis. The most common symptoms of food allergies include:
- Tingling mouth
- Itching mouth
- Lip, face, tongue, or throat swelling
- Trouble breathing
- Abdominal pain
Food allergy symptoms generally occur within a few minutes of ingesting the allergen, but may not develop until two hours after eating.
The most severe food allergies may result in an allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. The symptoms of anaphylaxis include:
- Constricted airways
- Difficulty breathing
- Decreased blood pressure
- Increased pulse
- Loss of consciousness
- A sense of impending doom
If you experience anaphylaxis, you must seek emergency treatment. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening.
What foods cause allergies?
You can be allergic to one food or a variety of foods. The most common food allergies for adults include shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, and fish. The most common food allergies for children include:
- Tree nuts, seeds
- Cow’s milk
Food allergens for adults also include:
Children will often outgrow cow’s milk, egg, wheat, and soy allergies. Up to 15% of peanut sensitive children, outgrow the allergy. Shellfish, fish, tree nut, and seed allergy are often lifelong.
There has been a sea change in how we look at food allergy. A recent study has shown that early introduction of peanut, between 4-11 months and done only under the guidance of a physician, can decrease the incidents of peanut allergy. Food desensitization is a rapidly advancing field where research using oral immunotherapy, sublingual immunotherapy, and patch immunotherapy is ongoing. We anticipate office-based desensitization therapy with FDA approved products in the near future.
When should I see a doctor about food allergies?
Always seek emergency medical care for anaphylaxis symptoms, do not wait to see if they get better on their own.
If you experience food allergy symptoms within two hours of eating, call the office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Fuller for allergy testing, diagnosis, and treatment options. You can also book your appointment online.