When it comes to allergies, everyone seems to have opinions about what causes them and how to potentially cure them. Even the scientific and healthcare communities have differing opinions on how to treat allergies. Some common beliefs surrounding allergies are just plain fiction. Here are five food allergy myths debunked.
1. Blood Tests are the Only Reliable Diagnostic Tool
This is one of the biggest food allergy myths making the rounds among patients. The truth is, blood tests are often inaccurate. These tests may generate false positives up to 75% of the time. A simpler, more accurate test is a food challenge. When administering this test, an allergist exposes the patient to different foods in increasing quantities until a reaction indicates an allergen.
2. Adults Don’t Develop New Allergies
Dr. Carlyn K. Sainvil, a Board-Certified Family Physician in South Metro Atlanta, believes denial is one of the major obstacles to identifying and treating food allergies in adults. “People believe because they’re older and have been eating something all their lives, they can’t become allergic,” she tells Parentology. The reality: “An allergy can rear its ugly head at any age.”
3. Food Allergies Last for Life
When allergies have life-threatening consequences, abstinence might the best course of action. However, this may present a different problem — children or adults may never know when they outgrow allergies. WebMD notes most children are allergy-free by 16. Outgrowing allergies used to occur at a much faster rate, generally by the time children entered school. However, allergies to milk and eggs now take a much longer time to outgrow.
4. You Can Just Ignore Allergic Reactions
An allergy myth that often costs people their lives is the belief that it’s possible to wait out an episode rather than seek emergency care. Rebecca Park, a registered nurse and creator of RemediesForMe, cautions: foods that didn’t provoke serious episodes before can one day turn fatal. “Food allergies can cause life-threatening reactions,” Park tells Parentology. “People with food allergies must always be vigilant as 150 to 200 people die annually from food-related allergies.”
5. Mothers Can Prevent Food Allergies
It’s a common belief that mothers can prevent food allergies by taking probiotics during pregnancy and taking care with their diet while breastfeeding. Shira Sussi, a registered dietitian nutritionist, warns this isn’t true. “There’s no hard, conclusive evidence that a maternal diet or diet during breastfeeding plays a role on whether [a] baby will develop a food allergy,” Sussi tells Parentology. “Also, there is no conclusive evidence that taking a probiotic during pregnancy will prevent a baby from developing food allergies.”
Believing the allergy myths above can prove fatal. If you believe you or your child may be suffering from food allergies, seek medical advice as soon as possible.