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Asthma and Food Allergies

By

Chris Iliades, MD

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This content is created or selected by the Healthgrades editorial team and is funded by an advertising sponsor. The content is subject to the Healthgrades medical review process for accuracy, balance and objectivity. The content is not edited or otherwise influenced by the advertisers appearing on this page except with the possible suggestion of the broad topic area. For more information, read the HealthGrades advertising policy.

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Asthma

Asthma and food allergies are both common conditions. Some people have both.

With asthma, the airways become narrow. This makes it hard to breathe. The most common type of asthma is allergic asthma when an allergic reaction sets off asthma symptoms.  Common asthma symptoms include coughing, wheezing, and tightness in your chest.

A food allergy is an allergic reaction to a protein in a food. A food allergy reaction can cause nausea, vomiting, hives, rash, and sometimes asthma. Although a food allergy can trigger an asthma attack, food allergies are not common asthma triggers.

Anaphylaxis can be frightening, but being prepared will help you feel empowered to prevent a dangerous allergic reaction. Do you know all the facts?

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Nov 6, 2015

2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

Both allergic asthma and food allergies are allergic reactions. However, health experts don't know much about the link between them.

What You Need to Know About Asthma

If you have asthma, you inherited genes that may make your airways super-sensitive to things in your environment. They include:

  • Substances that trigger an allergic reaction, like dust, mold, pets, pollens, and some foods

  • Smoke, fumes, strong odors, and air pollution—all things that irritate your airways

  • Respiratory infections caused by colds, the flu, or a sinus infection

  • Exercise

  • Changes in the weather

  • Strong emotions

  • Some medications

What You Need to Know About Food Allergies

Food allergies are usually first diagnosed in young children. Many children outgrow them. However, 9 million adults live with food allergies. Some have had food allergies since childhood. Others developed them later in life. In adults, asthma can make food allergies more severe.

Just eight foods account for 90% of all food allergies. They are:

  • Milk

  • Eggs

  • Peanuts

  • Tree nuts

  • Soy

  • Wheat

  • Fish

  • Shellfish

Those most likely to last into the adult years are allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.

New Research on the Link Between Asthma and Food Allergies

A study published in 2013 suggested that food allergies and asthma are more closely linked than people thought. The study involved more 300 children, 3 years and older, who had asthma. It found that:

  • 24% of the children had food allergies.

  • 12% had more than one food allergy.

  • Children with food allergies had more severe asthma symptoms. They also had symptoms more often.

  • Children with food allergies had more breathing problems. And, they spent time in a hospital more often.

If you or your child has food allergies that seem to trigger asthma symptoms, talk to your doctor.

Key Takeaways

  • Both asthma and food allergies are common conditions.

  • Food allergies are more common in children, but do occur in adults.

  • Though not a common asthma trigger, a food allergy can cause an asthma attack.

  • Recent research suggests a close link between food allergies and asthma in children.

Was this helpful? (1)
Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: May 16, 2016

© 2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. Food Allergies & Asthma. Cleveland Clinic. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic_Asthma_An_Overview/hic_Understanding_As...
  2. The impact of food allergy on asthma in children. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. https://www.aaaai.org/global/latest-research-summaries/New-Research-from-JACI-In-Practice/food-aller...
  3. What Causes or Triggers Asthma? Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. http://www.aafa.org/page/asthma-triggers-causes.aspx
  4. Allergens and Allergic Asthma. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. http://www.aafa.org/page/allergic-asthma.aspx
  5. Facts and Statistics. Food Allergy Research & Education. http://www.foodallergy.org/facts-and-stats
  6. Not Just for Kids: Understanding Food Allergy in Adults. Massachusetts General Hospital. http://www.massgeneral.org/children/about/newsarticle.aspx?id=3518

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