Food allergy affects up to 6 - 8% of children under the age of 3 and 2% of
adults. People often have an unpleasant reaction to something they ate and
wonder if they have a food allergy. One out of three people either believe
they have a food allergy or modify their or their family's diet. Thus, while
food allergy is commonly suspected, health care providers diagnose it less
frequently than most people believe.
This difference between the clinically proven prevalence of food allergy and
the public perception of the problem is due, in part, to reactions called "food
intolerances," rather than food allergies. (Food intolerance is more common
than food allergy.) A food allergy, or hypersensitivity, is an abnormal response
to a food. The response is triggered by the immune system. However, the immune
system does not cause symptoms of food intolerance, even though they may resemble
those of a food allergy.
If you suspect a food allergy, call your doctor for an appointment. If you
or your child have true food allergies, it is extremely important for you to
identify them and prevent allergic reactions. Food allergy reactions can, in
some cases, be fatal. Treatment is basically avoiding the food(s) after it
For more information on food allergies, visit the Food Allergy Network at www.foodallergy.org.
Read more about food allergies:
Created by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Modified
and updated by A.D.A.M., Inc. Illustration copyright A.D.A.M., Inc.
Alan Greene, M.D., F.A.A.P., Department of Pediatrics, Packard Children's Hospital, Stanford University School of Medicine; Chief Medical Officer, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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