All Australians are encouraged to unite and share information about what we can do to improve safety for people who live with food allergies, as part of Food Allergy Week from May 26 – June 1, 2024.


According to non-profit organisation Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia, our nation has the highest incidence of food allergy in the world, and that rate is growing rapidly. Over 1.5 million Australians are estimated as having a food allergy.


While there is question about whether allergies are increasing or just being diagnosed more, research from around the world suggests there has been a true increase in food allergies, allergic eczema, and allergic rhinitis (hayfever). Most of these allergies are caused when the immune system produces an allergy antibody (IgE) against proteins contained within foods. Hayfever is also caused by the immune system producing allergy antibodies against common environmental proteins. Common triggers for hayfever include the droppings of dust mites, pollens from weeds, trees, and grasses or from domesticated animals such as cats, dogs, and guinea pigs.


Allergies and symptoms

Common culprits of food allergies are caused by cow’s milk, egg, peanuts, and other nuts (tree nuts), seafood (crustaceans and fish), wheat and soy. Children can outgrow allergies to egg, milk, soy, and wheat however allergies to nuts and seafoods tend to last.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • sneezing
  • a runny nose
  • itchy or watery eyes
  • swelling around the face or mouth
  • vomiting
  • a rash
  • hives
  • stomach cramp
  • diarrhoea


The immune system tends to respond within 20 minutes of eating the offending food.

Other triggers for allergies can include bites and stings (insects are a common cause), medications or herbal treatments.


Anaphylaxis and symptoms

Anaphylaxis happens when the response to the allergy is more severe. It is a potentially life-threatening condition if untreated.

A severe allergic response might include:

  • wheezing or breathing difficulties
  • coughing
  • collapse
  • swelling of lips, tongue, or throat
  • hoarse voice or trouble speaking
  • itchy, blotchy skin and or rash
  • light-headedness or dizziness
  • faintness
  • diarrhoea
  • young children may go pale, clammy, or floppy.


Severe allergic reactions require urgent medical attention so it’s important to call triple zero (000) immediately. Lay the person down and if they have an EpiPen (an adrenaline injector) and you can administer it then do so.


This video here demonstrates how to administer an EpiPen.

Reactions usually occur within 20 minutes to two hours of exposure to the trigger, and rapidly become life threatening.


The Family Doctors Plus GPs know how important it is to be informed about food allergies in order to keep you and others well. If you believe you have a food allergy, please make an appointment at or phone 07 3357 8192.



Here are some helpful resources for more tips and information about allergies and anaphylaxis:



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