Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Either food allergy or food intolerance affects nearly everyone at some point. When people have an unpleasant reaction to something they ate, they often think that they have an allergy to the food. Actually, however, only
about 3% of adults and 6%-8% of children have clinically proven true allergic reactions to food.
This difference between the prevalence of clinically proven food allergy and the public's perception of the problem is due primarily to misinterpreting food intolerance or other adverse
reactions to food as food allergy. A true food allergy is an abnormal response to food that is triggered by a specific reaction in the immune system and expressed by certain, often characteristic, symptoms. Other kinds of reactions to foods that are not food allergies include food intolerances (such as lactose or milk intolerance), food poisoning, and toxic reactions. Food intolerance also is an abnormal response to food, and its symptoms can resemble those of food allergy. Food intolerance, however, is far more prevalent, occurs in a variety of diseases, and is triggered by several different mechanisms that are distinct from the immunological reaction responsible for food allergy.
People who have food allergies must identify and prevent them because, although usually mild and not severe, these reactions can cause devastating illness and, in rare instances, can be fatal.
Reviewed by William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR on 6/7/2011
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
allergies are often misunderstood, even though
societal recognition of, and education about, the condition is increasing. See if you have heard ? or
believed ? any of the following myths about food allergies:
"You're "allergic" to any food that gives you problems." This statement is
false, since there are several problems that can arise after eating specific
foods, the majority of which are unrelated to allergy. True allergies to foods
are immunologic reactions involving the class of immunoglobulins (proteinsthat
assist in the body's immune response) known as immunoglobulin(Ig)
E. Other kinds of reactions to foods that are not food allergies include food
intolerances (such as lactose
or milk intolerance), food poisoning, and toxic reactions. The prevalence of food allergy in the population is much lower than
the prevalence of adverse reactions to foods. It is estimated that true food
allergies occur in 2-5% of the population.