A food allergy is an immunological response to a certain food. If you are allergic to a particular food, your immune system mistakenly identifies that food as a foreign invader and therefore tries to attack it, which is an allergic reaction.
Among the most common foods that induce food allergies are wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish. If you have a food allergy, you may hear various theories about what to do if you are exposed to the allergen.
However, food allergy myths – including the types of reactions and how to treat them – can be very dangerous, because an incorrect response to a severe allergic reaction can lead to a fatal outcome. People who have food allergies are at risk of experiencing life-threatening anaphylactic shock, where the blood pressure drops, the airways become constricted, and the patient has difficulty breathing.
Let’s talk about some of the myths surrounding food allergies that somehow continue to make the rounds, and where you can go in northeastern Illinois to consult an expert allergist who can diagnose and successfully treat your allergies.
Myth #1: Food Allergies Always Begin in Childhood
While many food allergies are diagnosed in childhood, adults who have never had an allergic reaction before may suddenly experience allergy symptoms after consuming a specific food. A food allergy can develop at any age. It may surprise you to know that you can develop an allergy to a food that you frequently consume.
Myth #2: You Can Always Outgrow a Food Allergy
Kids who are allergic to milk, eggs, soy, or wheat usually outgrow the allergy by the time they reach the age of five. Children can indeed outgrow a food allergy – but just because the child has not had an allergic reaction for a long time doesn’t necessarily mean the child is in the clear.
Peanut, tree nut and shellfish allergies are usually lifelong. It is usually adult-onset food allergies that you cannot outgrow.
Myth #3: Consuming Small Amounts of the Food Will Help Eliminate the Allergy
This is one dangerous myth that can cause life-threatening reactions in those who have severe food allergies. For many people with a food allergy, even trace amounts of the allergen can trigger a severe reaction.
Immunotherapy, which is a type of allergy treatment that exposes the patient to tiny amounts of the allergen until the body becomes desensitized to it (so exposure does not cause a severe reaction), is only safe if supervised by an allergy doctor. Playing doctor and doing this method yourself is not safe.
Myth #4: A Mild Allergic Reaction Is Equivalent to a Mild Food Allergy
Mild allergic reactions are not a guarantee of mild reactions in the future. If you’ve had only mild reactions so far, you could have a severe reaction in the future.
Moreover, a mild reaction to a food allergy could progress to a severe reaction, which is why you should take action if you are experiencing unusual allergic reactions. See an allergy doctor as soon as possible.
Allergist in Downers Grove, Naperville, Elmhurst, and Plainfield, IL
Don’t put your life or your child’s life at risk any longer. Here at Oak Brook Allergists, our board-certified allergy doctors are experienced in diagnosing and treating adult and pediatric patients who have food allergies. We will help you control your allergies so that they do not interfere with your ability to live a fulfilling life.
If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment with an allergist on our medical team, call us today at (630) 574-0460 or fill out our appointment request form. We look forward to helping you take control of your allergies!