Food Allergy - Describe Your Experience

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Introduction to food allergies

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.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Iowaguy, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: April 13

I developed an allergy to fish at the age of 32. Eating fish gives me hives, respiratory tightness, and difficulty breathing. I had eaten fish up to that age with absolutely no problems. To this day, I do not have any trouble with shellfish. After about two years of no fish whatsoever, I tested myself with salmon. Amazingly, I do not experience the allergic reaction with salmon. All other fish -- tuna, halibut, tilapia -- still give me an allergic reaction.

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Comment from: Chichi, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 13

Over the last several years, I have noticed that I get bloated and my stomach hurts really badly as soon as spring starts. The pain goes away around August. I have never had allergies, as far as I can tell and I am wondering if I have developed any type of allergy to food or the environment as I am out more as soon as winter is over.

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