Nearly one in three people think they have a food allergy yet only 2% actually do, a British survey revealed last week. According to this report, up to one third of the population are unnecessarily starving themselves of valuable food substances through inaccurate self-diagnosis. This is partially due to confusion between the terms "food allergies" and "food intolerances."
Food intolerances will not trigger a life-threatening allergic response, but may trigger symptoms such as migraines, bloating or skin rashes. A food allergy, however, is an abnormal response to a food that is triggered by the immune system and is far more serious. In the worst cases the reaction could cause a sudden severe allergic reaction to the whole body.
The report showed that at present there are no reliable diagnostic tests for food allergies and instead patients have to take a food challenge test. This involves placing various foods, some of which are suspected of causing a reaction, into separate opaque capsules and then asking the patient to swallow the contents.
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