Skin specialists say that Australians are the world’s greatest hypochondriacs when it comes to food allergies blaming their meals on everything from acne to stomach cramps.
Although more than 10 per cent of adults claim they have a food allergy in reality only two per cent actually do, Connie Katelaris, a professor of immunology and allergy at Campbelltown Hospital told an annual meeting of the Australasian College of Dermatologists.
"These imagined food allergies are far more likely to be reported by women than by men," she told the conference.
"An individual often feels that they have control over their symptoms if they blame food."
Common Allergies Dust and dust mites
Animal fur/ dander
Avoiding known allergic triggers is an important part of allergy and asthma management. Allergy testing (using Skin Prick tests or RAST blood tests) helps your doctor to confirm which allergens you are sensitive to, so that appropriate avoidance advice can be given.
Which allergens should be tested for?
Allergy testing is usually performed in people with suspected hay fever (allergic rhinitis), asthma or reactions to stinging insects or food allergy. In people with hay fever or asthma, allergy testing usually includes house dust mite, cat and dog dander (perhaps other animals if contact occurs), mould spores, pollen from relevant grasses, weeds or trees and in some cases, occupational allergens. Testing can also be used to confirm suspected allergies to foods or stinging insects. Find out more here
Common Myths Concerning Allergy?
Allergies and asthma are very common in Australia and New Zealand. Around 1 in 3 people will develop allergies some time during their life, and about 1 in 10 will develop asthma. Far from being a trivial inconvenience, allergies have a significant impact on quality of life and are associated with medical problems. Some allergies are even life threatening. Unfortunately, many people confuse myth with reality in the way they view and treat allergies and asthma.
Myth: Allergies are uncommon
Reality: The frequency of allergic disease has approximately doubled in the last 25 years.
In Australia and New Zealand, around:
1 in 3 people will develop allergies at some time during life;
1 in 5 will develop atopic dermatitis;
1 in 6 will have an attack of hives (urticaria);
1 in 10 people have asthma;
1 in 20 will develop a food allergy (usually transient); and
1 in 100 will have a life-threatening allergy known as anaphylaxis.
Source: The Australian Society of Immunology and Allergy
Myth: Continuous exposure to animals will desensitize you to them
Reality: If you are allergic to an animal, continuous exposure will not decrease your allergy.
In fact, 1 in 3 people who are already allergic and exposed to indoor pets will become allergic to them as well over time. Keeping indoor pets is also associated with asthma and the need for more medication. If you are allergic to animals, sensitivity often worsens with ongoing exposure.
The best way to relieve symptoms is to avoid the animal, minimize exposure to household pets by removing them from the home or at least keeping them out of the bedroom, have hard flooring and wash the animal regularly to reduce the amount of allergen they shed.
Myth: A little bit of peanut does no harm
Reality: Contact with a trace amount of peanut can kill a peanut allergic individual.