Many Americans take extra care checking food packaging for allergen information. This is good practice considering food allergies can be potentially life-threatening.
Researchers from Lurie’s Children’s Hospital in Chicago and Northwestern University have found that about 26 million adults in America have food allergies. Interestingly, they found about twice as many adults incorrectly believe they are allergic to certain foods. This self-diagnosis results in a significant number of people needlessly avoiding certain foods out of unfounded fears.
Some of the symptoms reported by participants in the researchers’ survey are not consistent with true food allergies. Instead, they indicate less-serious conditions like food intolerance, the effects of which are typically limited to digestive problems. In light of this, the researchers advise Americans to get appropriate testing from a physician before completely removing these foods from their diets.
The survey, which involved around 40,000 adults, also found that among the most common food allergens were shellfish, milk, nuts, fish, eggs, wheat and soy. Interestingly, almost half of adults with food allergies such as these developed at least one of them in adulthood. More studies are needed to understand adult-onset allergies and to prevent adults from developing them.
Before diagnosing yourself as having an allergy, consult your physician to see if you should be tested to get a definitive answer and, if necessary, to get the proper advice on medications or counseling.
It might turn out you’re not allergic to a certain food, but it’s possible you shouldn’t be eating too much of it anyway.