Asthma Complexities

  • Medical Author:
    George Schiffman, MD, FCCP

    Dr. Schiffman received his B.S. degree with High Honors in biology from Hobart College in 1976. He then moved to Chicago where he studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He attended Rush Medical College where he received his M.D. degree in 1982 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Irvine.

  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideAsthma Symptoms, Causes, and Medications

Asthma Symptoms, Causes, and Medications

Food allergy

Food intolerance is very common but is not food allergy since it does not involve the immune system. Often this can present with abdominal discomfort after eating the certain food. Lactose intolerance is a classic example and occurs when dairy products are eaten and the individual does not have the proper digestive enzyme for these diary products. Food allergy on the other hand involves the immune system and the production of specific antibodies to components of the food. These antibodies are usually of a specific type called immunoglobulin E (IgE). The most common food allergens are the proteins in cow's milk, soy, fish, shellfish, eggs, and peanuts.

Usually, the symptoms of food allergy relate to problems with the skin. Hives, which are raised, red, warm and itchy lesions, can develop suddenly. Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is more chronic and appears as raised, itchy, scaly lesions. Gastrointestinal symptoms can also occur. Severe reactions can occur rarely and result in failure of the respiratory system and/or cardiovascular collapse. This is referred to as anaphylaxis. Asthma, too, can occur following exposure to a food substance to which an individual is allergic. The optimal management of these food allergies is avoidance of the offending food if possible. When one discovers or suspects that a food allergy may be present, an evaluation and testing by a professional with expertise in allergies (allergist, immunologist) is recommended. These professionals will often perform a variety of skin tests and blood tests looking for evidence of IgE antibodies to the suspected offending substance. A food diary involving a detailed record of all substances consumed can be helpful in discovering the offending food. Once discovered, complete avoidance of these foods is recommended.

Medically reviewed by James E Gerace, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Pulmonary Disease

Previous medical author: Dennis Lee, MD


An overview of asthma management

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