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If you have ever noticed itchy hives in your skin, vomiting, diarrhea or shortness of breath after eating a certain food, you may suffer food allergy.
Up to 1.5 million spaniards could suffer food allergy, and this is a growing figure especially in children. In the last few years this number six-folded (from 0,5 to 3% patients suffering allergy)
But all that glitters is not gold: several myths and misunderstandings may be misleading. These are some of the most popular myths on food allergy.
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- Myth 1: allergies and intolerances are similar
- Myth 2: strawberries and chocolate cause allergy frequently
- Myth 3: Just a little bit is ok
- Myth 4: Food Allergies happen only in kids
- Myth 5: certain food may be tolerated if cooked
- Myth 6: if I suffer almond allergy I cannot eat any other tree nuts
- Myth 7: if I am allergic to pollen, I cannot eat fruit
Myth 1: allergies and intolerances are similar
Allergy is a malfunction of the immune system, that recognizes a food as an alien and attacks it. Antibodies (type E) are produced and can be measured both in the skin or in the blood.
Intolerances are digestive or metabolism malfunctions leading to a bad digestion of incomplete absorption of some food.
No antibodies are produced and therefore they cannot be detected neither in blood or skin.
Myth 2: strawberries and chocolate cause allergy frequently
Not allways hives and itching in the skin are due to allergy.
Quite often some food rich in histamine (natural substance that causes itch and hives) can mimic the allergic response, as is the case of strawberry, cacao or shellfish.
Myth 3: Just a little bit is ok
Most food allergic patients have symptoms even with small quantities of the food. Severe reactions can happen just with the smell of the food.
As a general rule, avoid the contact with the food all the time and there will be no potentially dangerous reactions.
Myth 4: Food Allergies happen only in kids
Although food allergy are commonest in children, they can appear at any age, even in adults previously tolerating these food.
Food allergy in adulthood tend to persist, but in children may disappear spontaneously (mainly cow’s milk allergy, egg, wheat and soy).
Myth 5: certain food may be tolerated if cooked
The allergic reaction is due to food proteins and normally proteins do resist heating. Therefore the majority of food may not be eaten although cooked in case you are allergic to it.
There are some exceptions, as egg or cow milk: sometimes they can be tolerated if extensively heated. But never try this yourself: ckeck before with your allergist.
Myth 6: if I suffer almond allergy I cannot eat any other tree nuts
Peanut and tree nut allergy is a colloquial term grouping different food not necesarily related. As an example, peanut belongs to the family of legumes (as lentils, chickpeas or beans) and almonds to rosacea (as apples, pears, strawberries of peach).
An individual may suffer allergy only to a single tree nut and tolerate the rest of the nuts. A thorough and individual study may solve these doubts.
Myth 7: if I am allergic to pollen, I cannot eat fruit
Although some pollen allergic individuals may have symptoms after eating fresh fruits or tree nuts, it is not the general rule.
Last updated: march 18th, 2013