Top 5 Allergy Myths

These allergy facts are less true than you may have previously thought.

Allergy Myth 1: Food allergies are a common problem affecting many children and adults in the United States.

Truth: Much attention has been paid to the danger of food allergies today in order to raise awareness about their potential life-threatening nature. Yet the actual number of people diagnosed with this condition is actually much smaller than you might expect. In fact, fewer than 10 percent of all children, and about two percent of adults, have a true food allergy.

Allergy Myth 2: Food allergies and food intolerances are the same thing.

Truth: Many people who think they have food allergies are actually intolerant - not allergic -- to certain things they eat and drink. The symptoms can often be similar, but the way they occur isn't the same thing. Food allergies involve an immune system response to a trigger, which is why they can be so dangerous.

Allergy Myth 3: An increasingly severe reaction will occur with each repeated exposure to the foods that trigger an immune system response.

Truth: It's impossible to predict exactly what type of reaction you'll have when you're exposed to your food allergens. You may find that repeated responses are more severe than past ones, or you could find them the same or even less severe. Because you won't know in advance the type of reaction you'll get, that's why it's so essential to avoid anything that will trigger an immune system response.

Allergy Myth 4: Many people with food allergies will have a reaction to a wide variety of completely unrelated food types and groups.

Truth: Most food allergy sufferers are allergic to four foods or even fewer. Some of the most common culprits include peanuts and tree nuts, shellfish, other fish, milk, soy and eggs. Just remember that these allergens are common ingredients used in many recipes, so you'll still need to avoid a wide variety of foods, even if you're allergic to just one thing.

Allergy Myth 5: If you suffer from food allergies, there's nothing you can to protect your health and minimize the risk.

Truth: Food allergies can cause a life threatening reaction, making it essential that people with this condition make a great effort to avoid their triggers and keep themselves safe. To this end, you'll need to pay attention to the ingredients in the things you eat and drink. Your doctor or allergist can work with you to develop a safety plan to avoid coming into contact with your allergens. You should also be prepared to respond quickly in case you experience a reaction. You should always carry a self-injectable form of epinephrine, which can save your life in the event that you experience anaphylaxis. You should also let people close to you know how to respond in an emergency.




American Family Physician

The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network

Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy

Johns Hopkins Medicine