Think you have a food allergy? You might be wrong, study says

If you think you have a food allergy, you might be incorrect, according to a new report.

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Researchers from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and Northwestern University recently conducted a study, published in JAMA Network Open, to determine the prevalence and severity of food allergies among adults in the United States.

To do so, they surveyed more than 40,000 Americans between 2015 and 2016. The subjects had to answer questions about whether they believed they had food allergies and the reactions they experienced when they ate foods they believed contained allergens.

The analysts then produced a list of reactions they said are indicative of an allergic reaction, which included hives, throat tightening, wheezing and vomiting. It did not include symptom, such as nausea or general gastrointestinal malaise, as those usually suggest food intolerance.

After analyzing the results, they found that "while one in 10 adults have food allergy, nearly twice as many adults think that they are allergic to foods," lead author Ruchi Gupta said in a statement

“It is important to see a physician for appropriate testing and diagnosis before completely eliminating foods from the diet,” she continued. “If food allergy is confirmed, understanding the management is also critical, including recognizing symptoms of anaphylaxis and how and when to use epinephrine.”

The analysts also said just half of the participants with a “convincing” food allergy had been diagnosed by a doctor and less than 25 percent reported currently having epinepherine or an EpiPen prescription.

Furthermore, they discovered nearly half of food-allergic adults developed one of their food allergies as an adult.

"We were surprised to find that adult-onset food allergies were so common," Gupta said. "More research is needed to understand why this is occurring and how we might prevent it."

They determined the most common food allergies were shellfish, milk, peanuts and tree nuts.

Want to learn more about the findings? Take a look at the full assessment here.

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