Food allergies can range from being a mild irritant to becoming life-threatening. Each year 30,000 Americans are treated in the emergency room for severe food allergies. An estimated 150 to 200 Americans die each year because of allergic reactions to food. About two percent of adults and six to eight percent of children in the United States are effected by food allergies. A food allergy is a specific type of adverse food reaction involving the immune system. The body produces what is called an allergic, or immunoglobulin E (IgE), antibody to a food. Once a specific food is ingested and binds with the IgE antibody, an allergic response ensues. Most people confuse a food allergy with a food intolerance. Food intolerance refers to an abnormal response to a food or additive, but it differs from an allergy in that it does not involve the immune system. For example, people who have recurring gastrointestinal problems when they drink milk may say they have a milk allergy. But they really may be lactose intolerant. One of the main differences between food allergies and food intolerances is that food allergies can result in an immediate, life- threatening response. Thus, compared to food intolerances, food allergic reactions pose a much greater health risk.” Milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soybeans, fish, and shellfish are all examples of major food allergens. They account for 90 percent of all food allergies in the United States. Major food allergy lists vary from country to country. This is due to the pattern of consumption. There is no cure for food allergies, but you can protect yourself from having a reaction by avoiding the foods that will cause them.
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