Food allergies trigger more than reactions. They can also initiate misinformation and misconceptions that may discourage food allergy sufferers from seeking help or inspire them to blame any ailment they may have on food allergies.
Here are the most common food allergy myths:
Any negative reaction to a food is a food allergy.
- Adverse reactions to food can have many causes. If something does not "agree with you," it does not necessarily mean you are allergic to it. Food allergy is a very specific reaction involving the immune system of the body, and it is important to distinguish food allergy from other food sensitivities. Whereas food allergies are rare, food sensitivities are more common.
Just a small taste can't hurt.
- To your immune system, even a tiny amount of a problem food is enough to trigger an all-out attack. People with severe allergies can have life-threatening reactions. For example, a person allergic to peanuts can have a severe reaction when a spatula is used to serve them a peanut-free cookie was previously used to make a peanut-containing cookie.
All food allergies in children resolve as they get older.
- As a child grows older, some may tolerate foods that previously caused allergic reactions. This is more likely to happen in the case of allergies to milk, eggs, and wheat, in which the symptoms may decrease by late childhood. It is not clear in all cases, however, if the improved symptoms are an indication that the allergy has disappeared or the child really wasn't allergic in the first place. On the other hand, children rarely outgrow allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish.
Some people are allergic to food additives.
- Although some food additives-- sulfites and tartrazine—have been shown to trigger asthma or hives in individuals, these reactions do not follow the same pathway observed with food.
If you were not allergic to it before, you can't be allergic to it now.
- The onset of a food allergy is brought on by a genetic susceptibility and exposure to the problem food. The more exposure to the problem food, the higher the risk of developing an allergy to it if you are susceptible.
People with food allergies are allergic to many foods.
- Most people with food allergies are allergic to fewer than 4 foods.