Think you’re allergic to tomatoes? According to AOL Health, you may not be. A new government-funded study shows that while 30 percent of people believe they have food allergies, it’s actually less than five percent, and in kids, it’s only about eight percent. Researchers looked at 72 published food allergy studies and found that several factors – from misdiagnoses, to mistaking a bad reaction to a food for an allergy – have led to an overestimation of food allergies.
First, you need to know the difference between a food allergy and food intolerance. An allergy involves the immune system. According to the Food Allergy Institute at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, when someone’s allergic to something, their immune system acts like it would if it were infected with a parasite. Symptoms can include hives, swelling, wheezing, nausea, or the worst case scenario anaphylactic shock – in which airways are closed off. It’s a whole-body reaction. Food intolerance, on the other hand, involves the digestive system. It’s not as dangerous as allergies and is far more common. It causes reactions like gas, nausea, headaches, and bloating. Dairy is the most common intolerance people have.
So what’s the big deal if you think you’re allergic to something? You just avoid it right? Doctors say there are a lot of kids who have been told to stay away from a lot of foods. They can't go to parties, can't get school lunch, they’re scared of accidentally eating the wrong thing all the time. That could lead them to having nutritional deficiencies. So what’s the fix? Watch how you and your kids react to food. If a food causes stomach issues, it’s an intolerance. If it causes a reaction beyond the stomach, it’s most likely an allergy. Right now, the only treatments are avoidance and emergency epinephrine injections. So if you or your child has a true allergic reaction, call the paramedics.