Food Allergy: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 3/15/2019

A food allergy is an abnormal response to consuming a certain food, consisting of an activation of the immune system. Food allergy is less common than food intolerance or food poisoning.

Signs and symptoms of food allergy include an itching feeling in the mouth, tingling lips, swollen lips, swelling in the tongue and throat, difficulty swallowing, and problems with breathing. When the allergens (the substances that provoke an allergic reaction) are digested or absorbed in the bloodstream, other associated symptoms can result. These can include asthma with wheezing, hives, rash, eczema, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or vomiting.

Cause of food allergies

Both genetic and environmental factors may cause a food allergy. Food allergies involve the activation of the immune system as in other allergic reactions.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/15/2019

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