1.      The prevalence of food allergy is increasing! Over the last two decades, the prevalence of true, physician-diagnosed food allergy has increased.  There are numerous theories surrounding why this has happened, and it is a topic of rigorous research studies.  Currently, the rate of food allergy in children is approximately 8%, and up to 4% of adults are also affected by food allergies.

2.      All food allergies are very serious – but reactions can range from mild to severe! If you’re diagnosed with a food allergy, reactions can vary and depend on many factors.  Factors such as how much of the food was eaten, how it was prepared or cooked, if you exercised recently, if the pollen counts are higher, or if you’re sick can all influence your likelihood of having a more severe reaction.  Reactions can be severe with one accidental exposure, but milder with another exposure. This is why it is so important to stay diligent and avoid your known food allergen!

3.      Food allergy reactions can be immediate, but sometimes do not happen right away!  Usually, reactions will occur within the first 30 minutes of the food being ingested.  However, some patients can have delayed reactions that might start 40 minutes to 1 hour later.

4.      Antihistamines do not treat anaphylaxis! If you’re having a more severe allergic reaction, affecting 2 or more organ systems, or your breathing or cardiovascular systems, this is likely a more severe reaction and potential anaphylaxis.  You should use your epinephrine auto-injector right away, and call 911 for transport to local hospital for further observation.

5.      Antihistamines can be used for mild food allergy reactions, like itching or if you are having a few hives.

6.      The most common food allergy in children is milk, followed by peanut and egg.

7.      Up to 70% of children with milk allergy and 80% of children with egg allergy can tolerate milk or egg baked into goods, like muffins and cakes.  If you’re not sure if you can have baked goods, talk to your allergist about further evaluation or performing baked muffin challenge in the office to know for sure!

8.      The most common food allergy in adults and older children is shellfish, followed by peanuts and tree nuts.

9.      There is no relationship between shellfish allergy and iodine or contrast allergy.  This is a big myth! Patients allergic to shellfish are able to safely have IV contrast if needed.

10.   Positive testing (either skin testing or IgE testing to foods) does not always mean you are allergic!  Unfortunately, allergy tests are not perfect and false positives can happen.  This is why it is very important to see an allergist who will discuss your clinical history and be able to interpret test results appropriately!