In the U.S., food allergies send someone to the emergency room once every three seconds. An allergic reaction is a significant shock to a person’s immune system. Food allergies are the most common form of allergy. From allergic rhinitis to skin allergies, this response from the body causes pain, extreme discomfort, difficulty in breathing, or even death. Many Americans have their fair share of food allergic reaction stories. And such a fact has a bold impact on the world of medicine. So it’s valid when someone asks: “Why are food allergies increasing?”
On the Question, “Why Are Food Allergies Increasing?”
FAIR Health Inc.—an independent nonprofit company that gathers data and supervises the biggest database of privately billed health insurance claims in America—has recently conducted an analysis. In the study, they discovered that cases of food allergy reactions have skyrocketed by nearly 400 percent. That is a growth of five times over the past decade. From 2007 to 2016, the number of people diagnosed with anaphylactic shock—a condition that causes trouble in breathing—grew by 377 percent.
According to Robin Gelburd, the president of FAIR Health, “Allergies are a growing national public health concern.” He added, “We intend to continue to study food allergies and to release findings that can inform research and policy.” Interestingly, people are not born with allergies. Instead, they acquire allergies at a specific time or circumstance in their lives. Allergic reactions are deemed to be incurable. However, there are ways that people can reduce their allergic response—such as by avoiding allergens and taking prescribed medicines.
In Detail: Food Allergic Reactions
Hugh Sampson, the director of Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, has potentially shed more light on the path to answering the question, “Why are food allergies increasing?” He mentioned that the sudden spike in cases of food allergic reactions could be associated with the following:
- Continuous use of antibiotics
- Growing rates of C-sections, which affects the microbiomes of babies
- Progressively sterile surrounding
The analysis discovered that 8 percent of children have developed food allergies and that almost 40 percent have a history of critical reactions.
Foods That Cause Allergies
Even amid the rising question of “Why are food allergies increasing?”, medical experts around the world are trying to look for more effective ways to prevent food allergic reactions. Giving advice to parents and children has always been their weapon, but it, unfortunately, does not work as well as intended.
Food Allergy Research & Education® (FARE) stated that there are over 170 foods that have been reported to cause allergic reactions. Out of these substances, only eight are considered to be the major allergens, namely:
- Crustacean shellfish
- Tree nuts
Interestingly, peanuts are the leading cause of food allergies in the nation at 26 percent. Tree nuts came in second at 18 percent, followed by eggs in the third spot at 7 percent. Other unspecified food in the report gathered over 33 percent. These nutritious substances are ironically wreaking havoc to the industry of health and wellness in the United States.
In a notable effort, medical organizations and experts decided to turn the tables on allergy growth and change their approach earlier this year. They recommended a bold action wherein babies as early as 6 months old who have a high or moderate risk of having food allergies be introduced to allergy-causing food.
The Reality of Food Allergic Reactions
There are three categories of allergies: gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and skin. These allergies can cause various physical symptoms, such as swelling of the lips, throat and tongue. People could also experience trouble in swallowing, difficulty in breathing, and even a major drop in blood pressure. Dr. Jennifer Ashton, the Chief Medical Contributor of ABC News, says that is it important to always bring an Epinephrine injection—most often called an EpiPen. An EpiPen auto-injector is a lifesaving tool for people who may experience a sudden anaphylactic reaction.
Markedly, in trying to determine the answer to “Why are food allergies increasing?”, FAIR Health found out that cases of food allergic reactions ballooned more in rural areas than in cities. They also discovered that about 34 percent of claims were seen in people over 18 years old. Ashton added that food allergies could be developed later in life and not just during the childhood stage. The information has prompted the independent nonprofit company to dig deeper into the data. They will present another study to be released in October—discussing gender variations, cost of services, and geographical factors.
Knowing What to Do Helps!
People can pinpoint the causes of food allergies, but having this condition is still a mystery. Food allergies have a bold impact not just on the world of medicine but also across all industries in all nations. Until we can pinpoint the causes of these allergies, information about what to do when an allergy attack happens is still our greatest weapon.