One in five people in the United States have at least one type of allergy, including hay fever, food, drug, and latex allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Despite this high prevalence, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about allergies floating around – including what, exactly, an allergy is. We've dug into the scientific literature and spoke with allergy experts Drs. Jeffrey Stokes and Marc Riedl to bring you the truth about allergies, and some general guidelines to follow if you've been diagnosed with them (or suspect you may have them).
Be prepared for the long haul.
There is no cure for allergies. Studies have shown that it is possible to outgrow food allergies, but it's not clear for whom this is true. The type of food also matters: People are most likely to get over milk, egg, and soy allergies. "You don't see many 30- to 40-year-olds who are allergic to those foods," says Stokes, adding that the likelihood of outgrowing shellfish, tree nut, and peanut allergies is much lower. Non-food-related allergies appear to be more resilient, though research suggests that the frequency and severity of allergic responses is lower for the elderly (overall, the immune system gets weaker as you age, and thus produces fewer IgE antibodies).
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