One in 10 American adults has food allergy

Modesto Morganelli
Gennaio 11, 2019

Common food allergy symptoms are hives, welling and chest pain.

When is a food allergy not a food allergy?

While food allergies may not be as common as people think, they are still unsafe. Reactions often happen when the immune system produces antibodies known as Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies, but it is possible to have non-IgE mediated reactions. "For example, lactose intolerance is due to a lack of an enzyme to break down milk, but this is very different from a milk allergy which, in some patients, can be life threatening", he says.

"We were surprised to find that adult-onset food allergies were so common", Gupta said. But according to a new study, about 11% of American adults actually do. An intolerance involves the digestive system, so people who are intolerant have gastrointestinal issues, like gas or diarrhea, because they can't digest particular foods, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

Study data indicate the most prevalent food allergens among USA adults are shellfish (affecting 7.2 million people), milk (4.7 million), peanut (4.5 million), tree nut (3 million), fin fish (2.2 million), egg (2 million), wheat (2 million), soy (1.5 million), and sesame (0.5 million). So while the findings show that food allergies are common, they're not quite as prevalent as we think. "More research is needed to understand why this is occurring and how we might prevent it".

In all, almost half of those studied developed their food allergies as an adult, according to the researchers.

Also surprising was the discovery that less than half respondents with symptoms indicating a true food allergy had their condition confirmed by a doctor. "It is important to see a physician for appropriate testing and diagnosis before completely eliminating foods from the diet". "If a food allergy is confirmed, understanding the management is also critical, including recognizing symptoms of anaphylaxis and how and when to use epinephrine".

Led by paediatrician and food allergy researcher Dr. Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, researchers from Anna and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and Northwestern University assessed answers from a survey of 40,443 and found that while more than 10 percent of adults had a diagnosed food allergy, a whopping 19 percent simply believed they had an allergy.

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