There are over 30 million Americans who suffer from food allergies. Even with food allergies being so prevalent, there are still countless allergy myths in existence (that are not only wrong, but dangerous).
Whether you know someone who has food allergies, or you have them yourself, chances are that you could use a refresher on some of the more common myths out there. Below we cover some of the top myths around food allergies, as well as why they’re wrong.
Having a Food Allergy is Just an Inconvenience
There’s a major misconception among the general public that having food allergies is nothing more than a minor inconvenience. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The majority of food allergies are not only very serious medical conditions, but they’re typically life threatening as well.
It’s common for people to assume that having a food allergy means that you might get a rash, or an upset stomach (if you ingest the food you’re allergic to). Anyone who lives with a food allergy knows that this isn’t anywhere close to being the reality of the situation.
Most food allergies have the potential to be life-threatening. Not only that, but once someone has been diagnosed with having a food allergy, the diagnosis basically changes their entire life overnight. They need to be ever-vigilant of the food they consume, what they drink, and what they order at a restaurant. Food allergies are much more than an inconvenience, they’re a life-changing diagnosis for many of the people who suffer from them.
Food Allergies Only Cause Stomach Aches
Another major myth about food allergies is that they only cause (chronic) stomach aches. While in some cases this might actually be true, the majority of people who suffer from food allergies experience much more than chronic stomach aches.
On top of that, if stomach aches are one of their primary symptoms, they’re usually very severe (and are accompanied by equally severe GI problems, along with intense bouts of vomiting and diarrhea).
Multi-symptom allergies are much more common, and they’re technically not considered to be “chronic.” Food allergy symptoms are severe, acute allergic reactions (i.e. they’re medical emergencies that must be dealt with as soon as possible).
Some Types of Food Allergies are Mild
You really can’t be “mildly” allergic to something. In regards to food allergies, it’s all or nothing. Of course, you may experience symptoms that are mild, however these can easily become severe (i.e. life-threatening) in no time.
This is one of the main reasons why if you (or a loved one) ever experiences symptoms that you think might be related to food allergies, you should receive medical care as soon as possible. After you receive treatment for the symptoms, you should also look into scheduling an appointment with an allergist.
Food Allergies Can be Passed to Children
While this may be true in some cases, it’s just not a 100% fact across the board. There has been a significant amount of research done in this field, and the most recent studies show that if a child is introduced to a food early in their life, they will be less likely to become allergic to it. This is true even for families who suffer from a longline of (food-based) allergy problems.
However, there are times when a child shouldn’t be introduced to certain foods. Below we list some examples:
- If your child has already experienced an allergic reaction to a certain food before being 4-6 months old.
- If you’ve already had a child that has a serious peanut allergy.
- If your child suffers from eczema (severe-level symptoms).
If your child meets the above criteria, you should avoid introducing them to the foods that your family is historically allergic to. This should instead be done in a medical setting (e.g. at an allergy specialist’s office).
Peanut Allergies are the Most Dangerous of All Allergies
This is unequivocally false. Having a peanut allergy is the same as having any other type of allergy (i.e. they’re all equally as dangerous). No single food allergy is more dangerous than another. They all have the potential to be life-threatening.
While there are some food allergies that are more common than others (e.g. peanuts, milk, soy, etc.), they all share the same potential for causing life-threatening symptoms. This is why if you or a loved one has a food allergy, it should be managed as seriously as possible. Food allergies aren’t just inconveniences, but they’re serious medical problems that should be treated as such.