Food allergy

A food allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to certain ingredients in food.


A food allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to certain ingredients in food. This can cause tingling, itching and swelling in the mouth and throat and on the skin. A severe reaction can also trigger shortness of breath and problems with blood pressure. The most important measure is to strictly avoid the food that causes the allergy. Allergy sufferers should always have an emergency kit with them.


Life-threatening symptoms (anaphylactic shock): call emergency number 144

Causes and treatment


  • Triggered by skin contact, inhalation or ingestion of food
  • Family predisposition
  • Persons with known allergies such as pollen, grasses, house dust (can lead to what is known as cross allergies)
  • Food that often triggers allergies
    • Nuts, soya, grains, pulses
    • Strawberries, kiwi, citrus fruits, celery
    • Honey, fish, shellfish, cow's milk, eggs, chocolate, etc.
  • Lactose intolerance and coeliac disease are food intolerances, NOT allergies

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Physical examination
  • Avoid suspicious foodstuffs (do symptoms improve?)
  • Skin test (prick test)
  • Challenge test (oral)
  • Blood test (identification of antibodies)
Possible therapies
  • Strict avoidance of triggers
  • Immunotherapy or hyposensitisation (for cross allergies)
  • For an allergy attack
    • Antihistamines
    • Medication containing cortisone
    • Adrenaline emergency injection (emergency kit)

What can I do myself?

  • Strict avoidance of triggers
  • Self-observation/keep a food diary
  • Carry an allergy ID
  • Check the ingredients/declarations for food items
  • Be careful with restaurant, canteen and takeaway menus
    • Ask about ingredients
  • Always carry emergency meds/adrenaline emergency kit with you
  • Nutritional counselling (information about hidden ingredients)
  • When symptoms occur: immediately spit out the food
  • Take care with kitchen hygiene (kitchen appliances may harbour traces of allergenic substances)
  • Breastfeed babies

When to see a doctor?

Further information

aha! Swiss Allergy Centre (aha! Allergiezentrum Schweiz)


food allergy, allergy to food

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.