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Study says half the people who say they have food allergies technically don’t

CHICAGO -- A new survey found nearly 20 percent of adults think they have food allergies, but only a little over 10 percent of people are actually food allergic.

The study, Prevalence and Severity of Food Allergies Among US Adults, found that about 1 in 5 people reported having a food allergy. However, only 10.8 percent of those people exhibited symptoms that are medically associated with being food allergic.

Common food allergy symptoms are hives, welling and chest pain. The main cause for these were shellfish, peanut, milk, tree nuts and fin fish.

People not exhibiting convincing food allergies reported other symptoms like stomach cramps, a stuffy nose and nausea, which are not considered "convincing."

Only 1 in 20 were clinically diagnosed as having one or more food allergies.

"It is crucial that adults with suspected food allergy receive appropriate confirmatory testing and counseling to ensure food is not unnecessarily avoided and quality of life is not unduly impaired," according to the study's conclusion.

The study said the findings did not consider food intolerance. It did note that greater efforts to understand the differences between traditional food allergies and food intolerance are important.

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