Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Allergies Health Center

Font Size

Food Allergies - Treatment Overview

The best treatment for food allergies is to avoid the food that causes the allergy. When that isn't possible, you can use medicines such as antihistamines for mild reactions and the medicines in an allergy kit for serious reactions.

Start by telling your family, friends, and coworkers that you have a food allergy, and ask them to help you avoid the food. Read all food labels, and learn the other names that may be used for food allergens.

If your baby has a milk or soy allergy, your doctor may suggest either that you change the formula or that you feed your baby only breast milk. Specially prepared formulas are available for infants who have soy and milk allergies.

If you or your child has mild allergies, your doctor may suggest nonprescription antihistamines to control the symptoms. You may need prescription antihistamines if over-the-counter medicines don't help or if they cause side effects, such as drowsiness.

If you have a severe allergic reaction, your first treatment may be done in an emergency room or by emergency personnel. You will be given a shot of epinephrine to stop the further release of histamine and to relax the muscles that help you breathe.

How to treat a reaction

If your doctor has prescribed an allergy kit, always keep it with you. It contains a syringe of epinephrine and an antihistamine. It's important to give the epinephrine shot right away. Your doctor or pharmacist will teach you how to give yourself a shot. Be sure to check the expiration dates on the medicines, and replace the medicines as needed.

For step-by-step instructions on how to give the shot, see:

actionset.gif Allergies: Giving Yourself an Epinephrine Shot.
actionset.gif Allergies in Children: Giving an Epinephrine Shot to a Child.

You should also wear a medical alert bracelet or other jewelry that lists your food allergies. You can order medical alert jewelry through most drugstores or on the Internet.

Children and food allergies

It's important to take special care with children who have food allergies. A child with severe food allergies may have a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction to even a tiny amount of a food allergen. Your child should always wear a medical alert bracelet and carry an allergy kit.

Make sure that all caregivers (school administrators, teachers, friends, coaches, and babysitters):

  • Know about your child's food allergy.
  • Can recognize the symptoms of a food allergy.
  • Know where the allergy kit is kept and how to give the epinephrine shot.
  • Know to call 911 immediately.

Children may have only mild symptoms in the first few minutes after they eat the food allergen, but they may have severe symptoms in 10 to 60 minutes. Children always should be observed in a hospital for several hours after a reaction.

Make sure that your child:

  • Always wears a medical alert bracelet camera.gif.
  • Always carries an allergy kit. Children at risk of severe allergic reactions should keep the kits at school or day care and at home. Older, mature children should be taught to give themselves the shot.

Although your child needs to avoid certain foods, he or she still needs to eat healthy foods. A dietitian can tell you which foods are important for your child's health.

1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 25, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

epinephrine at school
Article
Woman sneezing with tissue in meadow
Slideshow
 
Woman wth tissue
Slideshow
thumbnail_florist_wearing_surgical_mask
Slideshow
 

woman sneezing
Slideshow
Bottle of allergy capsules and daisies
Article
 
Urban blossoms
Slideshow
Woman blowing nose
Slideshow
 

Woman with itchy watery eyes
Slideshow
Yawning Dog
Slideshow
 
Man sneezing into tissue
Tools
woman with duster crinkling nose
Quiz