What if getting lunch with a friend could be deadly? That’s a real possibility for someone with a serious food allergy.
Every year, up to 200 people with food allergies die from anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction characterized by a variety of symptoms including shortness of breath, low blood pressure and vomiting and swelling. About 1 percent of the overall population, including 8 percent of children, lives with food allergies, and the prevalence is on the rise.
Given the growing concern about food allergies, Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health and medical correspondent, hosted a twitter chat to help educate others on the topic.
What is a food allergy?
A food allergy is the immune system’s overreaction to a protein found in a particular food. Symptoms can occur with exposure to even a tiny amount of the allergen. Food allergies differ from food intolerances, which are food sensitivity. For instance, lactose intolerance is sensitivity to sugars in dairy that causes gastrointestinal distress, but is not an allergic reaction to dairy proteins.