“I've been doing an egg allergy research study at the Jaffe Institute for almost two years. At first I was kind of nervous, but now it's second nature to me. And the nurses are so nice. I was going to Mount Sinai every two weeks, but now I am able to come in only every four months. Hopefully by the time this is all done, I will be able to have eggs!”
-Teenage participant, egg study
Q: What is a Food Allergy?
A: Food allergies are in the news more often these days. But not everyone knows quite what they are, or how they differ from food poisoning. One of the major roles of the Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Food Allergy Institute is helping the public understand this important issue.
A food allergy is not the same as food poisoning or intolerance, although the symptoms for all three may be similar. You can become ill from food poisoning, typically caused by spoiled food. Or you can experience food intolerance. People with lactose intolerance, for example, cannot digest the milk sugar called lactose and may experience symptoms such as diarrhea and upset stomach after eating dairy products. Food poisoning or intolerance can make you feel very ill, but unlike severe food allergies, these conditions are usually not life-threatening.
You get an allergic reaction to food when your immune system—the part of the body that usually fights infection—attacks harmless proteins in your food. This response causes your body to release histamines and other substances, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, nasal symptoms, eczema, hives, swelling of the lips and tongue, coughing or wheezing, or even a drop in blood pressure or loss of consciousness. A life-threatening allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis. A food allergy can be mild or severe, but it is always an immune system response.
The Jaffe Food Allergy Institute is committed to helping those with food allergies live safer and healthier lives through comprehensive care, education, and innovative research to find cures. To this end, we are conducting studies about various topics, including diagnosis, education, prevalence, quality of life, and symptom management issues, as well as many basic science studies. Learn more about current studies