Have you ever wondered why the number of people claiming to have an allergy seems to be growing? Researchers may have finally found the answer. Some 50 percent of the people who think that they have an allergy don’t actually have it. Indeed, while some people would not have drugs to cure their allergy, others on the other hand would unnecessarily be avoiding food to which they think they are allergic, according to a new US study.
Nearly 11 percent of US adults suffer from a food allergy, or 26 million people, according to a study conducted in the United States. Scientists estimate that 12 million of them developed this disorder during adulthood, stressing that allergies do not just happen during childhood. But these same researchers have mainly discovered that the number of people who think they are allergic to something is almost twice as important as it is in reality.
In their study, published in the journal Jama Network Open on January 4, the researchers denounce the fact that while many people do not have access to antihistamines, others on the other hand avoid certain food unnecessarily by claiming to have an allergy that they don’t have.
To reach these conclusions, they conducted a survey of 40,000 American adults. These adults were asked about their food allergy, their symptoms and their diagnosis. The team then assessed whether the reported allergy was “convincing” given the manifestations of the disease. People suffering from bloating, stomach pain or diarrhea were, for example, eliminated from the group because their symptoms could be due to lactose intolerance or food intolerance.
The results revealed that the most common allergy was in shellfish. It affected 2.9% of adults. Milk and groundnuts were second and third, respectively 1.9% and 1.8%. But while 19% of adults surveyed said they were allergic, 10.8% of food allergies were considered “convincing”.
And of those actually affected – according to the study’s criteria – only 48% said they had been diagnosed by a doctor. Only a quarter received an adrenaline prescription. “I often see patients who think they have a severe allergy, who are not allergic or who have a mild allergy,” says Stephen Till, a professor at King’s College in London interviewed by the British newspaper The Guardian. Adrenaline auto-injectors may have been prescribed unnecessarily, such as a diet avoiding the presumed culprit, even in small amounts. ”
“Unfortunately… we lack doctors trained in allergy in adults, which amplifies this kind of problems,” he added. Although the study was conducted in the United States, the situation would be similar in other countries, such as the United Kingdom.