Approximately 15 million Americans have food allergies, including 6 million children.
Eight foods account for 90 percent of all reactions in the United States: cow’s milk, hen’s eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish. Other foods that people are allergic to range from avocados to yams.
Most food allergy symptoms are mild, but in the United States there are approximately 30,000 episodes of food-induced life-threatening anaphylaxis each year, associated with 150 to 200 deaths. The only proven way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid foods you are allergic to, so an accurate diagnosis is essential.
Studies show that more than half of presumed food allergies are not actually allergies.
It takes more than a couple of allergy tests to know for sure. Board-certified allergists have special training and experience in putting together all the pieces of your personal history, your medical history and physical exams to come up with a diagnosis. In addition, we now have Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the U.S. (National Institutes for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, December 2010) that provide in-depth information on what works and doesn’t work when it comes to food allergy.
Can You Outgrow Food Allergies?
Some children will outgrow their food allergies over time, particularly if they are allergic to milk, egg or wheat. It is less common to outgrow an allergy to peanuts or tree nuts, although it is still possible.
Food allergies are serious; never try to monitor them by yourself. Schedule regular checkups with your allergist to update your treatment plan.
Information from Allergy & Asthma Network partners: AllergyHome.org