Every now and then a catchy title circulates “most adults who claim food allergies are not allergic!” or “millions of Americans not food allergic as they claim”.
This makes it sound like many are faking their illnesses.
First of all, if you actually read these studies, the percentage of people who actually do have food allergies are quite high. So you could have made the title “majority of adults who claim food allergies are actually allergic” or “millions of Americans food allergic” or “food allergy in adults are on the rise”, which would have all been closer to the truth. But maybe not quite as clickable or joke-worthy.
Dismissing them as faking it, being hypochondriacs, stupid or mental helps no one.
Then what are the possibilities? What might actually be happening?
1. False negative. They actually do have an allergy but it did not show up in testing.
2. Non-IGE mediated allergy. Some of these can be severe, like FPIES.
3. Autoimmune disorder, like celiac disease.
4. Gastrointestinal allergy. Can be both IGE or non-IGE mediated and most don’t show up on skin tests.
5. Food intolerance. Not an allergy, not immediately life threatening, but can still cause a lot of havoc.
6. Wrong culprit. They have a food issue, but to a different food.
7. Outgrew the allergy. They had the allergy but outgrew it by the time testing was done. Actually a happy ending!