Millions of People Wrongly Believe They Have Food Allergies

These days, it can seem like just about everybody has a food allergy. But according to a new study, about 11% of American adults actually do. Yet 19% of adults believe they have a food allergy, even though some don’t have the diagnosis or symptoms to back it up, according to findings published in JAMA Network Open. This discrepancy suggests that quite a few adults are conflating allergies with less-severe food intolerances, which typically come with minimal digestion-related symptoms, the researchers write. If someone is truly allergic to a food, eating it can trigger a potentially life-threatening immune response. (People who are lactose intolerant, for example, may experience bloating, stomach pain and gas after eating dairy products, while those with a true milk allergy can experience wheezing, hives and anaphylaxis.) The new estimates were based on survey responses from almost 40,500 American adults who were asked if they had any diagnosed allergies, symptoms or hospitalizations. The researchers couldn’t independently confirm whether each survey respondent actually had a food allergy, but allergies were considered “convincing” if the person reported a physician’s diagnosis or significant symptoms such as swelling, trouble breathing, chest pain, vomiting or fainting after eating a certain food. Reports of an allergy that were only backed by milder symptoms, such as itching, stomach pain and rashes, did not meet the researchers’ criteria...
Source: TIME: Health - Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Tags: Uncategorized healthytime Research Source Type: news

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