Millions of Americans might be mistaken about their self-professed food allergy, suggests a new survey. It found that while nearly 20 percent of people said they had a food allergy, only half as many people reported the sort of symptoms you’d expect from eating something you’re allergic to.
Researchers surveyed more than 40,000 adults via the phone and internet between October 2015 to September 2016. The volunteers were asked if they had any food allergies and about what symptoms they typically had. They were also asked if they had ever been formally tested and diagnosed with a food allergy by a doctor.
All told, 19 percent of the nationally representative group reported having a food allergy, with the main culprits being shellfish, milk, and tree nuts. But only 10.8 percent said they had symptoms consistent with an allergic reaction to food, such as hives, swelling of the lips or throat, and chest pain. Those who didn’t instead reported symptoms like stomach cramps, a stuffy nose, or nausea.
The antibodies usually responsible for an allergic reaction are called immunoglobulin E, or IgE. When doctors test for allergies, it’s IgE antibodies they’re looking for. But people can react badly to food for other reasons outside of this process….It’s likely then, the researchers say, that people might be mixing up a food intolerance or sensitivity with a food allergy.
Read full, original article: Millions of Americans Are Wrong About Having a Food Allergy, Study Suggests