Food allergies are a common occurrence that affects millions of people worldwide. They occur when the immune system mistakes certain foods as harmful and produces an allergic reaction. This can range from mild to severe symptoms, which can be life-threatening in some cases. In this article, we will discuss 10 facts about food allergies that everyone should know.
Fact 1: Common Allergens
The most common food allergens include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies.
Fact 2: Allergies are Increasing
The number of people with food allergies is increasing. In fact, it is estimated that 32 million Americans have food allergies, which is an increase of 5.6 million since 2015.
Fact 3: Age of Onset
Food allergies can develop at any age, but they are most common in children. About 5% of children under the age of 5 have food allergies.
Fact 4: Allergies vs. Intolerance
Food allergies are often confused with food intolerance. The main difference is that food allergies involve the immune system, while food intolerance does not.
Fact 5: Symptoms
Symptoms of food allergies can range from mild to severe. Mild symptoms include hives, itching, and swelling. Severe symptoms can include anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening reaction that can cause difficulty breathing and loss of consciousness.
Fact 6: Treatment
Currently, there is no cure for food allergies. Treatment involves avoiding the allergen and carrying an epinephrine auto-injector in case of an emergency.
Fact 7: Cross-Contamination
Cross-contamination is a common issue for people with food allergies. This occurs when an allergen comes into contact with a non-allergenic food. It is important to wash hands and surfaces thoroughly to avoid cross-contamination.
Fact 8: Labeling Laws
In the United States, the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) requires manufacturers to label the presence of the top 8 allergens on food packaging.
Fact 9: Allergy Testing
Allergy testing can be done through skin tests or blood tests. These tests can help identify which foods an individual is allergic to.
Fact 10: Prevention
Prevention is key when it comes to food allergies. It is important to read food labels carefully, avoid cross-contamination, and carry an epinephrine auto-injector at all times.
Food allergies are a serious issue that affects millions of people worldwide. By understanding the facts about food allergies, we can work towards prevention and better management of this condition. Remember to always be cautious and prepared when it comes to food allergies.