Skip to content
Mental Health Matters
For appointments, call 1.804.828.2467
Appointment Request Emergency Room Tour Our Facilities


    Food Allergies 101

    by Dr. Santhosh Kumar, Division of Allergy and Immunology

    Original article from 2013 CHoR Tid*Bits Calendar.2013 TidBits Calendar

    Food allergies affect more than 1-2 percent of the general population and around 6-8 percent of children. The number of cases is growing, with an increase of 18 percent in the last few years. Here's some general information about how to recognize symptoms and serious reactions:


    The term food allergy describes a repeated abnormal response of the body's immune system to a food. The foods that cause the majority of food allergies in children are milk, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, etc.), sesame and corn. Symptoms related to food allergies include the following:

    • Itching of the skin and mouth
    • Skin rash
    • Swelling of the face, mouth and lips
    • Dizziness
    • Throat closing
    • Trouble breathing
    • Wheezing
    • Fainting

    Food allergy symptoms can range from mild to severe and can be visible after eating or after just touching the food. Most appear within 15-30 minutes but in some cases the appearance of symptoms can range from 30 minutes to four hours or even longer. Also, more than one symptom can occur at any given time.

    If you suspect a child has an allergy to a food, immediately stop the child from eating that food. Depending on the severity of the reaction, the child should be checked by a primary care physician or in the emergency room. Visits to an allergist can then help to identify the food(s) that are causing the reaction.

    Serious reactions

    In some cases, food allergies can be life-threatening and if you are unable to judge the severity of the reaction, the child should be taken to the nearest emergency room for care. Symptoms of a severe reaction include:

    • Coughing
    • Trouble breathing
    • Voice change
    • Wheezing
    • Throat closing
    • Fainting

    Timely intervention can save a life. If you suspect a child is having a severe allergic reaction, here's how to provide immediate help:

    • First and foremost, lay the child flat on the ground with their legs elevated.
    • If the child has been prescribed an EpiPen? for emergency treatment of allergic reactions, use it as instructed.
    • Call 911 immediately.
    • If the child is able to swallow Benadryl?, administer an age-appropriate dose.

    Find A Provider

    Get Directions

    For Appointments,
    Call 1.804.828.2467.

    Facebook Twitter YouTube