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Preventing and Treating Food Allergy

There is currently no cure for food allergies, and the available treatments only ease the symptoms of a food-induced allergic reaction.

Preventing a Food Allergy Reaction

You can only prevent the symptoms of food allergy by avoiding the allergenic food. After you and your healthcare professional have identified the food(s) to which you are sensitive, you must remove them from your diet.

Read Food Labels

Photo of a food'singredients label's food allergy warning.
© iStockphoto

Read the list of ingredients on the label of each prepared food that you are considering eating. Many allergens, such as peanut, egg, and milk, may appear in prepared foods you normally would not associate them with.

Since 2006, U.S. food manufacturers have been required by law to list the ingredients of prepared foods. In addition, food manufacturers must use plain language to disclose whether their products contain (or may contain) any of the top eight allergenic foods—egg, milk, peanut, tree nuts, soy, wheat, shellfish, and fish.

Keep Clean

Simple measures of cleanliness can remove most allergens from the environment of a person with food allergy. For example, simply washing your hands with soap and water will remove peanut allergens, and most household cleaners will remove allergens from surfaces.

Treating a Food Allergy Reaction

Photo of someone wearing a medical alert bracelet.

© iStockphoto

Unintentional Exposure

When you have food allergies, you must be prepared to treat an unintentional exposure. Talk to your healthcare professional and develop a plan to protect yourself in case of an unintentional exposure to the food. For example, you should take the following steps:

  • Wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace
  • Carry an auto-injector device containing epinephrine (adrenaline)
  • Seek medical help immediately

Mild Symptoms

Talk to your healthcare professional to find out what medicines may relieve mild food allergy symptoms that are not part of an anaphylactic reaction. However, be aware that it is very hard for you to know which reactions are mild and which may lead to anaphylaxis.

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Last Updated June 11, 2015