Is it Really an Allergy?
Written By: Emma Squillace
You likely know lots of people who say they have allergies. But a recent study indicates that only half of people who think they have food allergies, actually have a diagnosis by a doctor. This study highlights the significant misunderstandings around allergies, as well as the importance of being seen by a physician who specializes in allergies for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. At West Medical, we see similar misunderstandings in those who believe they have seasonal allergies. Often there are other conditions with symptoms that resemble allergies. It’s only with a proper diagnosis that you can hope for the best plan for relief.
Allergies are more than a frustration. Because they can interfere with your ability to sleep well, they can result in trouble focusing at work or while driving. They can also substantially limit your lifestyle, forcing you to avoid leisure activities or going to your kids’ baseball game. Nasal allergies can result in asthma, which when uncontrolled can be very dangerous. Food allergies are serious as well, especially if you are not prepared with epinephrine at all times. In the study, less than 1/4th of the respondents said they carried epinephrine with them.
Who was studied
This new research, published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, analyzed survey results from approximately 40,000 adults in the US. Of these adults, 19% of them reported having a food allergy. However, the researchers found that only 10% of the total – about half of those reporting an allergy – had been diagnosed by a physician. Another interesting finding was that about half of the adults with a food allergy developed that food allergy later in life. This may be surprising because often we think of the majority of people with allergies having those from childhood. However, it is our experience at West Medical that some adults do develop allergies later in life, including nasal allergies.
Common food allergies in adults
The scientists also looked into what food allergies are most prevalent in adults. Based on their findings they estimate that there are:
- Over 7 million US adults with shellfish allergies
- 4.7 million US adults with milk allergies
- 4.5 million US adults with peanut allergies
- 3 million US adults with tree nut allergies
After these most common allergens, they also found allergies to soy, finfish, eggs, wheat, and sesame to be quite common.
Common nasal allergies in adults
Adults are often allergic to environmental triggers like pollen, dust mites, and pet dander. It can be difficult to understand how you went 30, 40, or 50 years without being allergic to something, only to find that allergies are now interfering with your quality of life. Doctors do not yet know why it’s so common for adults to develop allergies later in life, but it is a frustration that many of our patients face. Allergies like these can cause hay fever, asthma, and eczema. They can be responsible for keeping you up at night or stopping you from enjoying time in a park or in your garden. The good news is there are innovative allergy treatments like sublingual immunotherapy, that may give you relief from your symptoms.
If you think you may have an allergy, the first step is to get an accurate diagnosis. Once a physician has determined if you have allergies, and what those allergies are, they can help you understand your treatment options. We offer a range of allergy treatments from immunotherapy to surgical options. If you would like to set up an appointment, please call us at (855) 690-0565.