If you don’t suffer from a food allergy, it can be easy to forget the millions who do.
And if you do live with a food allergy, or care for someone who does, it’s easy to feel alone among the millions of other sufferers.
Here are some of the most common questions and surprising food allergy stats and facts you might not know, but should.
How many people suffer from food allergies?
Approximately 15 million Americans have food allergies. That 15 million includes nearly 6 million children under age 18.
That's a staggering one in 13 children, or two in every classroom across the country.
Which foods are people allergic to?
More than 170 foods cause allergic reactions.
Of those, the eight common allergens responsible for most of the serious food-allergy reactions in America are: milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and crustacean shellfish.
Are food allergies on the rise - or declining?
We wish we had better news, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the prevalence of food allergies has increased by 50% between 1997 and 2011.
And between 1997 and 2008, allergies to peanuts and tree nut allergies more than tripled in U.S. children.
Are food allergies really life-threatening?
Yes - this is a sit-down-and-pay-attention moment.
About 200,000 people every year people visit the emergency room for food allergy-related reactions.
It’s gotten even more serious in recent years, as the number of children hospitalized for food allergies tripled between the late ’90s and the mid-2000s.
About 40% of kids currently living with food allergies have experienced a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction like anaphylaxis.
In allergic kids, peanut is the primary allergen, followed by milk and then shellfish.
Do food allergies impact our quality of life?
Yes - in fact, caring for children with food allergies costs U.S. families nearly $25 billion every single year.
Also, one in three children with a food allergy reports being bullied as a result - that means compared to kids who don’t have a medical condition, those with food allergies are twice as likely to be pushed around.
Do people outgrow their allergies?
Sometimes. Allergies to milk, egg, wheat and soy often do resolve in childhood.
The not-so-great news is that children are outgrowing these allergies more slowly than in the past, with many still allergic past age 5.
And for those of you who suffer from peanut, tree nuts, fish and shellfish allergies, you’ll generally have to contend with them for your whole life.
Is there a cure for food allergies?
Right now, nope.
The best way to manage your food allergy is to 100% avoid the food and learn to recognize and manage your reactions.
In addition, check out helpful sites like Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) or the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology for more information about food allergies.