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Study: 20 percent of adults say they’re allergic to a food, while only 10 percent are

Posted: 6:19 AM, Feb 04, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-04 11:31:47-05
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — About half of adults who think they have a food allergy, actually don’t. A study released in January showed many adults think they are allergic, but haven't been tested.

The report published in The Journal of the American Medical Association concluded of the American adults with confirmed food allergies, half developed that allergy as an adult. Doctors in Kansas City said if you have a reaction after eating a food, it’s important to visit your primary care physician and perhaps a specialist to receive testing.

“Eighty-five percent of what I'm going to learn about a patient comes from sitting and talking about what were their allergies when they were little: did they have colic, did they have trouble with food as a baby, and then on up to even as an adult,” said Dr. Bruce Pfuetze, an allergist at College Park Family Care Center in Overland Park.

The top food allergies in adults are shellfish, milk, and peanuts.

Doctors at Pfuetze’s office and elsewhere in the Kansas City area are helping patients desensitize their allergy.

“Say they get a bite of cookie that had peanut in it, or they may be exposed to peanut butter in one way or another. Now, they're much less likely to have a reaction. They still need to have the injectable epinephrine available,” Pfuetze said.

While someone may not have a food allergy, they may be intolerant to a food, which can be just as uncomfortable. In its basic sense, an intolerance affects your digestive system, resulting in bloating or diarrhea. An allergy affects your immune system, resulting in swelling, hives, an itchy mouth and throat.