What is the Connection Between Food Allergies and Asthma?

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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 January 2019
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Though it is considered fairly uncommon for food allergies to trigger an asthma attack, there are some apparent connections between food allergies and asthma. Asthma, the constriction of the bronchial tubes, is often triggered by pollutants or particles such as dust mites, pollen, pet dander and smoke. For people who suffer from allergies, their body’s immune system response to these aggravators is to attack the invading particles. For some people, the flood of immune response chemicals being released causes a physical reaction. The reaction may be constriction of the airways among other symptoms. Asthma is not always allergy-related and can be chronic or exercise-induced.

Much like an environmental airborne trigger, certain foods may trigger an asthma attack. Food additives and preservatives may be the culprit in some cases. Sulfites are commonly found in prepared foods such as dried fruits and vegetables, wine, beer, pickled foods, and bottled lemon or lime juice. Food allergies and asthma may be connected to specific types of food allergies as well, such as an allergy to peanuts, eggs, soy, wheat, and so on. For this reason, any person who has suffered symptoms of allergies or asthma following consumption of a particular food should talk to their doctor. Allergy testing may be necessary to determine the extent of the allergy.


It is important to understand that while there is a connection between food allergies and asthma for some patients, this is not always the case. While asthmatic reaction may be triggered by foods, it can also be caused by other sources. Chronic asthma is a different condition than allergy-induced or exercise-induced asthma and has different causes and treatments. When proper testing has been conducted to determine food allergies, then avoiding those foods is essential to avoiding allergic reactions.

While food allergies and asthma may be connected, those with severe food allergies can also suffer a much more serious reaction known as anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock is marked by symptoms of food allergies and asthma, but the immune response is so quick and severe, it actually sends the body into shock. This condition can be life-threatening because it involves the whole body. Epinephrine, an adrenaline hormone, is the first line of defense and is administered to help raise blood pressure and restore breathing.

Unlike environmental allergens, histamine blockers do not prevent the reactions caused by food allergies. The only way to prevent a reaction, asthmatic or otherwise, caused by food allergies is to avoid the offending food source. If you have symptoms of both and suspect your food allergies and asthma are connected, you should talk to your doctor. Knowing what foods you were exposed to and what reaction you had will better help your doctor perform the right allergy tests to confirm any true allergies. If you have asthmatic reactions to environmental triggers, increased physical activity, or other stimuli, you should tell your doctor. Symptoms of asthma include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest. If you have been diagnosed with food allergies and asthma, you will need to have an epi-pen and rescue inhaler available at all times.



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