Updated: Jun 30, 2018
A few statistics and basics about food allergies that's helpful to know.
90% of allergic reactions are caused by 8 foods!
These are known as the "top 8". They are: milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, and shellfish. The next two on the list are sesame and corn.
Food allergies affect 1 in 13 children, roughly 2 in every classroom.
It's estimated that ~5% of children in the US have food allergies, or ~5.9 million children.
Food allergies are becoming an epidemic...
The prevalence of food allergies has risen rapidly. In an 11-year period between 1997 and 2008, nut allergies more than TRIPLED among children. And between 1997 and 2011, food allergies in general increased by 50%.
...and no one knows why.
At this point, researchers don't know what is responsible for the rapid increase in food allergy prevalence. A few theories are the hygiene theory, environmental factors, as well as changes in gut bacteria due to the modern diet. But research has yet to determine a cause.
Allergic reactions range in severity and can be fatal.
Epinephrine is the first line of treatment for severe allergic reactions.
Antihistamines cannot stop anaphylaxis, and epinephrine must be used quickly. Sometimes more than one dose may be required.
While there is currently no cure for food allergies, there are promising trials that indicate a cure may be on the horizon.
Treatments that leverage oral immunotherapy are starting to demonstrate some results and some doctors are starting to incorporate it into their practice. In the meantime, avoidance and learning how to treat a reaction are the best means of managing food allergies.
Note: The above is not a substitute for professional medical advice and is meant to be just one perspective. Always consult and seek the advice of your doctor.