Separating Facts from Myths
Many commonly held beliefs about food allergies aren’t actually true. If you restrict your diet unnecessarily, you may be actually doing yourself more harm than good. Test your knowledge of food allergies by guessing whether each of the following statements are True or False.
1. Most people who believe they have food allergies actually do.
This is a myth. About twenty percent of North Americans believe they have a food allergy whereas only between one and three percent of people actually do.
2. Among young children peanut allergies are the most common food allergy.
This is a myth. The most common allergy in children is dairy allergy. Peanut allergies, however, are more problematic in school settings because of the possibility of inhalation or contact reactions.
3. Children may outgrow food sensitivities, but never food allergies.
This is another myth. Among common allergies, milk, egg, and soy allergies are among the likeliest to resolve with age, while nut and shellfish allergies usually persist into adulthood.
4. If you vomit every time you eat a food, you’re probably allergic to it.
This is a myth. Most of the time, allergies are not associated with vomiting or indigestion. This is more often a symptom of intolerance. If you notice persistent symptoms whenever you eat a food, get tested for intolerance (e.g. lactose).
5. Most people with allergies can’t eat even a little of what they’re allergic to.
This is a fact. If you are intolerant to a food, you can often get away with a small serving of it without any ill effect, but if you are allergic to it, you must strictly avoid it.
6. Hives are always a sign of a food allergy.
This is a myth. Hives are a common food allergy symptom, but they can also be a sign of a drug reaction or a reaction to an insect bite, among other causes.
7. It’s possible for allergies to develop after adolescence.
This is a fact. Most of the time, food allergy symptoms first show up during childhood, but they can develop at any time after the first exposure to a food. Shellfish allergies are among the most likely to show up for the first time in adults.
8. Some benign foods such as rice can never cause allergic reactions.
This is a myth. Virtually any food can cause an allergic reaction.
If you believe you have a food allergy, talk to your doctor to get tested for it.