Food allergies happen when the body’s immune system mistakenly reacts to a food as though it were a dangerous substance. The result is a release of chemicals that can affect the skin, digestive system or respiratory system.
Children are more likely than adults to have food allergies, especially young children. The foods that are most likely to cause allergic reactions include:
- Cow’s milk
- Fish and shellfish
- Peanuts and tree nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pecans and cashews
Allergic reactions to food range from mild to serious and can include skin rashes, abdominal pain, coughing, wheezing and other symptoms. In severe cases, the reaction affects multiple body systems. This is called anaphylactic shock, and it causes the tongue and throat to swell and the airways to tighten so that breathing becomes difficult or impossible.