Earlier this week, we reported on a recent food allergy study that, perhaps unsurprisingly, caused long and fierce emotions among readers. The study found that around 10 percent of adult Americans are allergic to foods such as shellfish, nuts and dairy products. However, it also turned out that almost as many described themselves as allergic, but then reported symptoms that did not match a real food allergy. Here are some answers we received:
"As someone who deals with an actual, verbatim food allergy (tree nuts quickly turns me into anaphylaxis), I appreciate an article that illustrates the difference."
For some reason, food allergies are now a desirable feature. Another checkbox to be different and unique. "
" In Other News, people want to feel special and invent all sorts of confusing states, ruining the business for people who are actually allergic. "
" [S] Sometimes it was easier to tell someone who made six plates of egg pies, vanilla pudding, and meringue gourmet treats that I had an allergy. I'm not happy about it, but it's easier and easier for people to understand than to explain how I do not want to spend four hours with sweaty abdominal pain just to have the pleasure of their devilish eggs. "
" Yes I know that I have no "allergy", but milk, certain cheeses and cucumbers cause painful cramps, vomiting and other inconveniences. It's a lot easier to just say that I have an allergy than a sensitivity that people just seem picky about. "
Readers expressed concern, both by email and in the comments, what they found to be the hidden effects of the study. If there are people who claim that they have food allergy but do not have symptoms that match any of these symptoms, does that mean that they are basically fooling themselves? A minority of readers went further, saying that some people are lying about their problems to fit into the latest health trend. This is a common cause for people who say their diet needs to be gluten-free.
In our original article, it was pointed out that people who misjudge an allergy do not fake their problems, but may experience something else, such as food intolerance. But given the intense emotional reactions of readers – both those who believe that their sensitivity to eating is not taken seriously, and those who feel that people with food problems are overly precious – one should investigate why We should not reject people who donate. They do not have classic food allergies, but they are somehow hypersensitive.
On the one hand, the authors of the study themselves did not try to reduce a person's nutritional problem.
"We do not say that people are wrong. One in ten US adults has a food allergy and this is a very important number. Half of these allergies develop in adulthood, which is also very worrying, "said lead author Ruchi Gupta, professor of pediatrics at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, told Gizmodo. "Another 9 percent had very valid food conditions that could have been a food allergy, but the symptoms overlapped with other nutritional states."
For example, the survey asked people with a food reaction which symptoms they most commonly report as having a serious reaction , The Gupta team classified those who had at least one of several well documented symptoms of food allergy, such as hives or swelling of the oropharynx, as a true allergy. But asking people to remember their past is always a difficult business. Perhaps some people who were not classified as food allergies in the study actually had consistent symptoms, but did not mention them.
In addition, scientists are discovering and exploring all sorts of ways in which the body can respond poorly to food that does not necessarily look like a classic food allergy.
For example, people with a rare eosinophilic disease produce more eosinophils. a kind of white blood cell, as they actually need. This overproduction can then lead to inflammatory attacks. There are several types of disorder, depending on where the overactive eosinophils are produced. People with eosinophilic gastrointestinal disease, that is, their eosinophils can cause havoc throughout the digestive system, often have food-related triggers. The most common form of this type, eosinophilic esophagitis or EoE, may affect one in 4,000 children.
And while many reactions to a trigger feed can occur immediately and do not affect the antibody immunoglobulin E like a typical allergy all. Some people may experience delayed, chronic reactions such as heartburn, chronic stomach ache, and a damaged esophagus that involve other non-food allergy-related antibodies, such as immunoglobulin G, a spokesman for the American Eosinophilic Partnership Partnership, Gizmodo E-mail notified.  There are other complex immune disorders, such as mast cell disease. As with eosinophilic disease, people with mast cell disease may experience a mix of sudden and delayed responses to food-triggering. Estimates of how many people have mast cell disease are hard to come by, but some forms may affect about one in 10,000 people. People with celiac disease have a delayed immune reaction to gluten. There is also Hashimoto's disease, an autoimmune disease that is gradually damaging the thyroid and affecting 1 to 2 percent of people in the US. Hashimoto's sufferers are particularly sensitive to iodine, which is used to produce thyroid hormones. Therefore, they must carefully monitor their diet to avoid much of it. And of course, there are other conditions, such as lactose intolerance, that do not affect the immune system at all.
The length and brevity of all this is that our body is weird and we barely scratched the surface to understand the many ways it can go awry. With that in mind, it's understandable why some people with lactose intolerance may simply call their problem an allergy, a common term everyone understands. In other cases, as some readers have pointed out, people may call their complex sensibility to food an allergy to avoid judgment or curious questions.
"We still have family members who ask, 'Well, I can still give you this food, right? "Because they do not see the effects of a trigger," said GM Contreras, founder of a self-help group for families dealing with EoE and father of a child with EoE, opposite Gizmodo. "Some children only get hives. Some get abdominal pain. Some die You never know when and how the effects will come.
Of all eating movements, the gluten-free trend seems to attract attention. The question of whether people can become ill by eating gluten, but do not actually have a wheat allergy or a celiac disease, is always explored. Although we are not quite sure how gluten could make these people sick (or that gluten is the true culprit itself), there are studies that show that some individuals with reported gluten sensitivity actually show signs of internal damage and experience relief cutting wheat and other gluten-rich foods from their diet.
But if you decide to call a sensibility allergy when you refuse a courtroom dinner, or you suspect that you have a problem but do not know how to classify it, it's up In any case, to determine why you can not tolerate a particular food. Finding a doctor who can help you better understand your specific food problem may not be an easy or affordable task, but it's better than a self-diagnosis. That, Gupta says, hopes that people can take their research with them.
"We wanted to stress how important it is to get a doctor's diagnosis. So if it's another food condition that's based on a food allergy. They know how to handle it, as some are treatable and some, such as food allergies, can be life-threatening, "she said.
Whether you are officially diagnosed with an allergy, intolerance or anything else. If you avoid certain foods, you feel better, less sick, or just better, then that's no shame.