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Find out if a food allergy is real

May 19, 2019 GMT

Many parents refused to take their children to see last year’s film “Peter Rabbit.” The movie includes a scene in which Peter and a gang of bunnies use blackberries as a weapon to gain access to veggies in Thomas McGregor’s garden. He’s allergic to the fruit, and when the rabbits slingshot a berry into his mouth, he struggles with an EpiPen, experiences anaphylaxis and collapses.

Food allergies aren’t something to joke about! Sony publicly apologized for its misstep. But that’s not the only misunderstanding of this serious medical condition that needs to be called out.

A survey published in JAMA finds that while 10.8% of U.S. adults (over 26 million folks) actually have a food allergy, almost 20% think they do! There’s a lot of self-diagnosis going on, and that means people with troubling symptoms are both unnecessarily avoiding certain foods and not getting diagnosed for what is causing their digestive, skin or other health problems.

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Surveying more than 40,000 people, the researchers found that shellfish, milk, peanut/tree nuts and fin fish are the most common food allergies, and 48% of those with food allergies developed them as an adult. Think you have a food allergy?

STEP NO. 1: Get tested.

STEP NO. 2: If diagnosed, get an EpiPen prescription and always carry one — unfortunately, only about 25% of food-allergic folks do!

STEP NO. 3: Read food labels.

STEP NO. 4: If it turns out you’re food-allergy free, but troubled by symptoms such as digestive upset or skin irritation, see an appropriate specialist to determine the cause, and find a solution!

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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