So you think you have a nut allergy? Maybe lactose intolerant? Maybe a shellfish allergy?

As reported by JAMA Network, researchers surveyed more than 40,000 people on the phone and also internet. They were asked if they had any food allergies and what symptoms they had. They were also asked if they had ever been formally tested and diagnosed with a food allergy by a doctor. The results indicated that 19 percent of people reported having a food allergy, with the main ones being shellfish, milk, and nuts. But only 10 percent said they had symptoms consistent with an allergic reaction to food, like hives, lip or throat swelling or chest pain. Those who didn’t instead reported symptoms like stomach cramps, a stuffy nose, or nausea. So experts say it doesn’t mean people are lying or  pretending to have food allergies....instead they could be confused about the terminology.

True allergies happen when the immune system overreacts very quickly and in a specific way to a substance harmless to us, whether it’s food or something else. The body quickly sends out antibodies which cause a profound allergic reaction. When doctors test for allergies, it’s those special antibodies they’re looking for. But its not the only reason people can react to food or other items that can cause a reaction that can be mistaken for a true allergy, a doctor can confirm with a test if it is indeed a true allergy, or something else.

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