What to Know About Food Allergies

Today, food allergies are becoming more common.

According to the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies increased to 18 percent between 1997 and 2007.

About 3 to 8 percent of children and 1 to 3 percent of adults in the United States have a food allergy.

The most common food allergies are:

- Milk

- Eggs

- Peanuts

- Tree nuts

- Wheat

- Soy

- Fish

- Shellfish

People outgrow food allergies related to milk, egg and wheat. Food allergies related to tree nuts and fish can last significantly longer.

The biggest misconception of food allergies is the assumption that food allergies are the same as food intolerance.

Food allergies are an unfavorable health effect caused by an auto-immune system response to a chosen food. Food allergy symptoms can involve skin, respiratory and gastrointestinal traits. Most food allergy symptoms can begin in less than two hours upon consuming foods and can last up to 48 hours. Food allergies can be fatal.

Lactose intolerance, for example, occurs when someone does not have enough lactose enzyme to digest the lactose in dairy foods.

Food allergies are very serious, so it's important you know ways to lessen the risk of experiencing symptoms:

- Be aware of where food is prepared. People with food allergies should avoid eating the food and clean surfaces the food allergy was prepared and served.

- Be aware of cross - contamination. Cross-contamination can take place in home kitchens, commercial kitchens, and restaurants to name a few. If you're dining out, inform your server or host of your food allergen prior to ordering your meal or visiting the potluck table.

- Know your treatment options. An immediate treatment option would be avoiding the food. Alternatively, self-injectable epinephrine would help with sudden food allergy symptoms. Consult with your physicians for the best option for your food allergies.

Exploring foods shouldn't be scary. Your food journey should be just as flavorful as the dishes you explore - so now , go do so!

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