Food allergy falsehoods
Lynda Schneider, MD, director of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Allergy Program, dispels common misconceptions about food allergies
A positive allergy test means that you have a food allergy
Food allergy testing results in a high number of false positive results. This means that your test could be positive but you can eat the food without a problem. Certain foods, such as wheat and soy, have a high percentage of false positives; for other foods, such as egg, a positive test often means you are allergic. We know that the level of allergic antibody against the food or a skin test can help predict if someone will have a reaction, but to really know if the patient is allergic, a food challenge is needed.
A little bit of a food can’t hurt you
Even small amounts can cause reactions in sensitive patients with food allergies.
All reactions to a food are a food allergy
There are many types of reactions to foods and food allergy is one specific type of reaction. People can have reactions to chemicals, toxins or bacteria in food or have intolerances, such as lactose intolerance. These are different than having a food allergy.
If you ate a food before without having a problem once, you won’t develop a food allergy
You can actually develop a food allergy even if you ate the food previously with no problem.
Chocolate is a common food allergy
Chocolate is a very rare food allergy. Reactions to chocolate are often caused by the milk or nuts in the chocolate.
Epinephrine is a dangerous drug and should only be used as a last resort
Studies show that early administration of epinephrine is life-saving. It’s a very safe drug and in general should be used for any peanut/tree nut reaction or for any allergic reaction that includes more than just a few hives.