Composition with common food allergens including egg, milk, soya, peanuts, hazelnut, fish, seafood and wheat flour

Common Food Allergy Triggers

There are some common foods that trigger the majority of food allergies. Common food allergy triggers include:

  • Cow’s milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Shellfish
  • Soy and sesame
  • Wheat


Cow's Milk



Tree Nuts



Rare Triggers

Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance 

Some who think they have a food allergy may instead have what is known as a food intolerance.

While these two conditions share many symptoms, it is important to understand that a food allergy triggers an immune response and can, therefore, be fatal in some cases. A food intolerance causes digestive issues and discomfort, typically, and are less serious. This is the main and most important difference between food allergy and food intolerance.

When one has a food intolerance, you may be able to consume small amounts of the food and only experience symptoms when you consume large amounts.

Food intolerance can be caused by several different triggers, including:

  • Sensitivity to additives
  • Lacking a necessary digestive enzyme
  • IBS
  • Celiac disease

Some patients may have an aversion to certain foods due to stress or psychological factors, as well.

Common Food Allergy Symptoms

  • Hives or itchy skin
  • Stuffy or itchy nose, sneezing
  • Red, itchy and watering eyes
  • Stomach pain and cramping
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Swelling
  • Anaphylaxis
Happy African American mother, daughter and son preparing spaghetti and vegetables for lunch

Severe Food Allergy Symptoms

In some cases, food allergies can result in symptoms that are much more severe, even fatal. Patients who develop any of the following symptoms should seek medical help immediately:

  • Tightening in the throat, hoarseness
  • Tightening in the chest or trouble breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Tingling in the hands, feet, lips or scalp

These can be signs of anaphylaxis and require immediate medical treatment.

Prevention & Management of Food Allergies

There is no known cure for food allergies; however, there are steps patients can take to manage their condition. In some cases, treatment options may be available to help lower the risk of a reaction. Talk with your allergist today about the right plan for your condition.


Prevention & Avoidance

Avoiding any and all exposure to the food allergy trigger. Patients should always review ingredients in foods and ask questions about the preparation and storage of foods in restaurants.


Mild Reactions

Those with milder reactions can use antihistamines to relieve some symptoms associated with food allergies. Any food allergy intervention should be pursued in consultation with a medical professional.


Severe Reactions

Any patient who has a severe food allergy should create and maintain an anaphylaxis action plan in partnership with their doctor. This includes carrying and knowing how to use an EpiPen.

Risk Factors of Food Allergies

Risk factors can vary from patient to patient and allergy to allergy. Below is a general rule of thumb for increased risk of having a food allergy or developing another one:

Family history of food allergies

Existing food allergy

Existing environmental allergy

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Most Common Food Allergy?

What Does a Food Allergy Rash Look Like?

How To Get Tested for Food Allergies

Can Food Allergies Cause Fever?

Can You Develop Food Allergies Later in Life?