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Food Allergies - When To Call a Doctor

Call911or other emergency services immediately if you have had a severe reaction in the past from the same food and similar symptoms are developing. If you have an allergy kit prescribed by your doctor for severe allergic reactions, give yourself the epinephrine shot before you call for help. If possible, have someone else call while you give yourself the shot.

Because symptoms can come back even after the injection, go to the emergency room every time you have a reaction, even if you are feeling better. You should be observed for several hours after the reaction.

Recommended Related to Allergies

Food Allergies: 5 Myths Debunked

Nearly a third of people living in the U.S. believe they have a food allergy, according to a recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association . But only 5% of children and 4% of teens and adults have true food allergies. Why do many people think they have a food allergy when they don't? Experts say it’s because people don’t understand what really constitutes a food allergy and they often misuse the term. “Unfortunately, the term ‘allergy’ is sometimes used by the public...

Read the Food Allergies: 5 Myths Debunked article > >

Call911or other emergency services immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Rapid swelling of the throat or tongue
  • Trouble breathing, wheezing, or deep cough; a pale face or blue lips or earlobes
  • Feeling faint
  • Signs of shock, including:
    • Lightheadedness or a feeling that you are about to pass out
    • Restlessness, confusion, or a sense of impending doom
    • Moist, cool skin, or possibly profuse sweating
    • Weakness, thirst, nausea, or vomiting

If you witness a severe allergic reaction and the person becomes unconscious, call911or other emergency services immediately.

If your food allergy symptoms are getting worse, call your doctor. It is important to know which foods are to blame so that you can avoid them.

Watchful waiting

If your food allergy symptoms do not get worse or are not too severe or bothersome, you can try eliminating suspect foods from your diet to see whether symptoms disappear.

Who to see

The following health professionals may evaluate and treat mild food allergies:

An allergy specialist may be needed when:

  • You need to identify the foods that trigger allergic reactions.
  • Your work or school performance or quality of life is affected because of allergy symptoms or medicine side effects.
  • You have other medical conditions, such as recurrent asthma.

You may also be referred to other specialists, such as a:

A nutritionist or registered dietitian can help you keep a balanced diet even when you can't eat some foods. A nutritionist or dietitian can also help you learn how to avoid hidden allergens in foods and give you ideas about how to make substitutions in recipes.

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

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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.
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