Food Allergies

Allergist located in Valencia, CA

Food Allergies

An estimated 4% to 6% of children and 4% of adults in America have a food allergy. Whether you’re allergic to shellfish, eggs, or peanuts, food allergies can lead to dangerous symptoms and reactions. At her eponymous practice in Valencia, California, Maricar Cutillar-Garcia, MD, offers exceptional care to patients of all ages experiencing food allergies. She offers skin and blood tests to help diagnose allergens and can help you or your child manage symptoms and develop preventive measures. To book an appointment, call the practice today or use the convenient online scheduling tool. 

Food Allergies Q & A

What are food allergies?

A food allergy occurs when your immune system overreacts to a harmless food protein or allergen. Even a small amount of the food can trigger severe or even life-threatening symptoms.

Eight types of food account for approximately 90% of all reactions. These include: 

  • Eggs
  • Milk and diary
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (walnuts and pecans)
  • Fish
  • Crustacean shellfish (shrimp, lobster, and crab)

Sesame (or tahini) is the ninth most common food allergen. 

Children may outgrow their allergies to milk and eggs, but peanut and tree nut allergies may persist throughout their lifetime. 

How do I know if I have food allergies?

You may have food allergies if you ingest a certain food and then experience symptoms, such as: 

  • Trouble swallowing
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Vomiting  
  • Stomach cramps
  • Hives
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Tight or hoarse throat
  • Weak pulse
  • Pale skin
  • Dizziness 

You should seek out emergency care if you or your child experiences anaphylaxis, a reaction that impairs breathing and sends the body into shock. 

Eczema, an itchy, patchy skin condition may be a delayed reaction to a food allergen. 

How do you diagnose food allergies?

Your provider asks questions about your medical history, symptoms, and what you ate that triggered a negative reaction. 

Your provider may conduct a painless skin-prick test. They use a small, sterile needle to insert liquid containing the food allergen under your skin. If your skin reacts with a small, red bump,  you’re sensitive to the allergen.

Your provider may take a blood sample from you and then send it to an outside lab. There, they test for the amount of IgE antibodies to the specific food you may be allergic to. 

Your provider may encourage an elimination diet, where you stop eating suspected foods and then gradually incorporate them back into your diet. 

How do you treat food allergies?

The best way to treat food allergies is to avoid triggering foods entirely.  You should also take preventive measures, including: 

  • Reading food labels carefully 
  • Letting others know you have a food allergy
  • Wearing a medical alert bracelet 
  • Carrying an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen®
  • Telling your restaurant server about your allergies

Your provider may also recommend innovative biologic drugs that can treat severe food allergies. 

If you suspect you have food allergies, book an appointment online today or call Maricar Cutillar-Garcia, MD, to learn more.