How Common Are Food Allergies?

Allergies involve an abnormal response from your immune system to something harmless that it perceives as a threat. While a vigilant immune system helps fight off an infection — like the cold or the flu — an allergic response can be uncomfortable and even life-threatening, depending on the trigger and your sensitivity to it.

Our team at Advanced Allergy & Asthma offers on-site allergy testing that provides fast, accurate results in diagnosing allergies, including those to food. While food allergies are a widespread problem, many believe they have a problem compared to the number who actually do.

Food allergies by the numbers

Each year, millions of Americans have an allergic reaction to something they eat. For most, these responses are relatively minor, but some can be severe and come with serious health consequences. But how many people really have a food allergy?

Research shows that while 1 in 10 American adults have a food allergy, nearly twice as many think they’re allergic to certain foods. The confusion lies with how someone reacts to a certain food. 

A person can have a food intolerance or another food-related condition that causes uncomfortable symptoms in response to something they eat. An estimated 20% of people worldwide have a food intolerance, causing similar symptoms to food allergies.

However, having a food intolerance doesn’t mean you have an allergy to it, even if the symptoms impact your quality of life. Instead, to be a true allergy, your immune system must become involved. 

Recognizing a food allergy

An estimated 7.6% of children have food allergies. Of the 10.8% of adults with food allergies, nearly half-developed at least one of their allergies in adulthood. 

When you have an allergic reaction to a particular food, your immune system releases chemicals like histamine that cause inflammation in your body. This abnormal response can occur from even small amounts of your food trigger, and they can occur within minutes or hours after consumption.

Signs of a food allergy can include:

The most severe reaction is anaphylaxis. This response is a life-threatening medical emergency that can cause shock and even death. However, of those with clinically diagnosed food allergies, less than 25% have the prescription medication needed for severe allergic reactions.

The most common food allergies

Nearly 90% of all allergic reactions come from eight different foods. These items include (from most common to least common):

To diagnose or confirm a food allergy, our team discusses your reaction and performs a scratch or blood test. If you test positive, we can help develop a treatment strategy to help manage your condition.

For more information on food allergies, contact one of our offices in Ogden, Utah, today.

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