According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylactic Network, more than 15 million Americans suffer from one or more foods allergies. In addition, physicians believe that many more people suffer from food sensitivities, which are undiagnosed and untreated. Knowing the difference between the two conditions caused by commonly consumed food can make difference in seeking help, or just popping a few Tumms. Untreated allergies can lead to anaphylactic shock and be fatal.
What is food allergy?
Food allergy is our body’s immune system’s response to common foods, which are mistakenly seen as a threat and attacked. Protein in some foods triggers creation of chemical components, such as histamine, resulting in the reaction we are familiar with when having an allergy attack: hives, swelling, itching and skin rash. More severe reaction can cause trouble breathing, wheezing or fainting. If not treated immediately, it can be fatal.
According to the CDC, the number of children suffering from food allergies is on the increase. It went up full 18 percent from 1997 to 2007. There are today about three million children in the US with food allergy.
Almost 90 percents of all food allergies are caused by eight foods: peanuts, eggs, cow’s milk, fish, wheat, shellfish, soybeans and nuts. Children commonly outgrow allergy to eggs and milk once their stomach matures. Adults are commonly allergic to nuts, fish and shellfish.
Besides these eight most common allergens, FDA reports that there are more than 160 additional foods that can trigger an allergic reactions.