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What should I know about food allergies or food intolerances?

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Food allergies or food intolerances affect nearly everyone at some point. People often have an unpleasant reaction to something they ate and wonder if they have a food allergy. One out of three people either say that they have a food allergy or that they modify the family diet because a family member has one, but only about 5% of children have clinically proven allergic reactions to foods. In teens and adults, food allergies occur in about 4% of the total population.

This difference between the clinically proven prevalence of food allergy and the public perception of the problem is in part due to reactions called "food intolerances" rather than food allergies. A food allergy, or hypersensitivity, is an abnormal response to a food that is triggered by the immune system. The immune system is not responsible for the symptoms of a food intolerance, even though these symptoms can resemble those of a food allergy.

For example, being allergic to milk is different from not being able to digest it properly due to lactose intolerance.

It is extremely important for people who have true food allergies to identify them and prevent allergic reactions to food, because these reactions can cause devastating illness and, in some cases, death.

From: Food Allergy and Food Intolerance WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: "Fact Sheet: Food Allergy and Intolerances."  UpToDate. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario on October 29, 2018

SOURCES:

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: "Fact Sheet: Food Allergy and Intolerances."  UpToDate. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario on October 29, 2018

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