Living with serious food allergies can be challenging, and having a child with food allergies is even more difficult for parents. Unfortunately, there are many food allergy myths floating around that make living a normal and healthy life even more difficult.
By learning how to distinguish between food intolerances and allergies and learning about allergen labeling and treatment options, you can manage food allergies more effectively.
So let’s discuss seven food allergy myths spread through most parenting communities that can cause real problems.
Know the facts and stay safe. Let’s get to it.
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*The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. If you believe you or your child have a food allergy, please reach out to your primary care physician to discuss your concerns.
Food Allergies Are a Common Problem
As many as 25 percent of Americans believe they suffer from food allergies (or that their children do). However, far fewer than 25 percent of people have food allergies. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, in 2021 only between 4 and 6 percent of children and about 6 percent of adults suffer from food allergies.
Since food-related allergies only affect approximately 4 to 6 percent of Americans, those who believe they have a food allergy actually have another condition.
This is why it’s important to speak with your primary care doctor about any allergies you believe you have and to work with an allergist for a reliable diagnosis.
People Suffer From Gluten Allergies
While it’s true that some people experience discomfort after eating gluten, nobody is allergic to the protein compound. Gluten is not a specific food, but rather a protein compound that appears in rye, wheat, and barley.
Anyone that experiences stomach or digestive discomfort or pain after consuming gluten is suffering from gluten intolerance. When you have an allergy, your immune system responds to the compound. Gluten-related issues, however, primarily exist within the digestive system. Celiac disease most commonly causes gluten intolerance.
It’s important to distinguish between gluten intolerance and actual food allergies (such as a wheat allergy). It’s possible to be allergic to wheat products, but that’s different from a gluten intolerance and will likely result in different symptoms. Some issues with intolerance can be resolved with slight dietary changes, including incorporating probiotics into your diet.
Allergic Reactions Increase in Severity With Each Episode
It’s a common myth that food allergies will increase in severity each time someone consumes the same food. The truth is that each allergic reaction is individual and may be mild, moderate, or severe. Consuming foods that you’re allergic to on multiple occasions won’t necessarily cause your reaction to get any worse than any other episode.
Several factors that do impact the severity of an allergic reaction include the amount of food ingested, exercise levels, and additional illnesses. These factors lead to different reactions with each allergic episode.
If you are unsure about your food allergies, you should work with a licensed specialist to help you determine the cause of your allergies and to adopt eating practices that will help you stay safe and healthy over time.
Young Children Aren’t Eligible for Food Allergy Testing
Many parents believe that young children cannot be tested for food allergies. The reality is that nearly every child can be given allergy prick tests and panel tests to identify specific allergies. It can be difficult to diagnose children under 3 months old because their immune systems’ responses to skin-prick allergy tests can be difficult to interpret. Thankfully, young children can be tested in serious situations with some success.
Generally, children older than 6 months can be tested for food allergies with reliable results. Skin prick tests and other allergy testing methods are never 100 percent accurate, and results are always mixed, but it’s helpful to have different testing options available when you have a child suffering from food allergies.
If your little one is developing hives when consuming foods or is suffering from other symptoms that suggest an allergy, bring them to the emergency room for serious reactions, and work with a specialist to try to determine the root cause of the reaction.
You can also have your child undergo a health scan to learn about food sensitivities, resonating toxins, and hormonal imbalances.
Epinephrine Is Harmful and Only for Extreme Emergencies
Epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, is the treatment of choice for people suffering from dangerous allergic reactions. The substance is well-known for its usefulness in reversing closing airways caused by allergies. Many people believe the substance is only good for emergency situations when the reality is that it can and often should be used for moderate allergic reactions as well.
This is because epinephrine reverses most allergic reactions in addition to preventing airways from closing. If you treat yourself or a loved one with epinephrine before an allergic reaction escalates and becomes life-threatening, you can avoid unpleasant (and potentially dangerous) side effects.
It’s true that epinephrine does have some side effects, and it shouldn’t be abused or used for minor allergic reactions (like small local rashes), but it can help alleviate more aggressive and serious reactions.
Epinephrine’s side effects include anxiety, increased heart rate, nausea, tremors, and vomiting. Severe reactions are pretty rare, and often epinephrine’s side effects are worth it, especially if you can prevent an allergic reaction from escalating.
A Child Will Be Allergic to the Same Foods Their Entire Life
As children age, some will lose their allergies. It’s common to outgrow allergies by the age of 12 for many children.
If you have a child with a food allergy, even a strong one, it’s possible that they will outgrow it and stop suffering from any of the related symptoms.
Older children may want to try snacks and food items they were once slightly allergic to to see if they’re still allergic. Note that you should always ask your PCP about trying any new foods, and consider speaking with an allergist before introducing known allergens back into your child’s diet.
Every Food Allergen Must Be Shown on a Food Package Label
It’s a common belief that food packages have to list any allergy-causing ingredients. This isn’t true though. According to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, the top eight allergens must be listed on food labels, but there are more than eight allergens that cause allergic reactions in people.
If you’re allergic to a food product that doesn’t contain one of the top eight most common allergens, it’s possible you won’t see that allergen listed on your food products.
Hopefully, now that you know some of the most common food allergy myths and the truth about them, you’ll find it easier to manage your allergies or to care for a loved one with food allergies.
If you still have questions about allergies, speak with your primary care provider, and consider making an appointment with an allergist to get down to the bottom of your (or your loved one’s) food allergies.