Advertisement

Can I have an allergic response the first time I'm exposed to an allergen?

Paul M. Ehrlich, MD
Allergy & Immunology
You only become allergic to things after you have already been exposed to them. An allergic response cannot take place upon first exposure to an allergen; sometimes that fact provides some very poignant glimpses into people's lives. For example, we once had a teenage patient from an observant Jewish family. His general practitioner had ordered a standard battery of radioallergosorbent test (RAST) tests and when son and father arrived to hear the results, I was chagrined to find a reaction to shrimp and lobster. These delicacies are not allowed under dietary laws observed by both devout Jews and Muslims, who are restricted to eating only kosher or halal foods, respectively. Ergo, it could only be that the son had tasted forbidden fruit of the sea.

In reviewing the results with them, my body language made the father suspicious and he asked to look at the printout himself. He said, "Doctor, it is my understanding that you only become allergic to things after you have already been exposed to them." I nodded. He turned to his son and spoke to him firmly but kindly in Yiddish. I couldn't contain my curiosity and asked him to tell me what he had said. He answered, "How did it taste?"
Asthma Allergies Children: A Parent's Guide

More About this Book

Asthma Allergies Children: A Parent's Guide

Asthma and allergies are at epidemic proportions. It doesn't have to be that way. Two experienced pediatric allergists tell everything a conscientious parent needs to know about these conditions,...

Continue Learning about Allergies Symptoms

What is the difference between allergy symptoms and allergies?
Sky Ridge Medical CenterSky Ridge Medical Center
Allergy symptoms are not the same as allergies. When someone says they have allergies they often mea...
More Answers
How can I tell if I have a cold or seasonal allergies?
HealthyWomenHealthyWomen
To tell if you have a cold or seasonal allergies, consider the following: A seasonal allergy occ...
More Answers
Is my daughter's morning throat-clearing a sign she has allergies?
Anthony L. Komaroff, MDAnthony L. Komaroff, MD
It is hard to know for sure without a little more information. Here are three quick ideas for you to...
More Answers
How Can I Prevent Itchy Eyes If I Have Allergies?
How Can I Prevent Itchy Eyes If I Have Allergies?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.