Five Things You Never Knew About Food Allergies

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Food allergies seem like they're everywhere these days. Everyone you meet is lactose-intolerant, gluten-sensitive, or nut-averse. And statistically, food allergies are on the rise, particularly among children, with a whopping 15 million Americans reporting them.

So to raise awareness and funds to find a cure, the FARE Walk for Food Allergy is headed to Miami this Saturday, November 15. The 2013 walk raised $3.6 million nationwide for food allergy research, education, awareness, and advocacy, and the sponsors hope for the same success this year.

Ahead of the upcoming event, we spoke to the folks at Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) about five things you probably didn't know about food allergies. Check it out after the jump.

See also: The Honey Tree: Amazing Vegan Comfort Food on the Upper Eastside

5. There's been a major rise in the number of children with food allergies in the United States, but no one is really sure why.

"The world's leading scientists do not know what is causing the rise in food allergy, but there is agreement that the increase can be attributed to a combination of environmental and genetic factors," says Veronica LaFemina, vice president of communication at FARE.

4. There's no way to know how severe a food allergy reaction will be.

"Prior reactions do not predict future reactions. That means someone could have a history of only mild reactions, then experience their first anaphylactic reaction without warning," LaFemina says. So people with allergies of any kinds should avoid the food in question altogether. Vigilance!

3. Every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the ER.

That's more than 200,000 emergency-room visits a year in the U.S. "Food allergy is the leading cause of anaphylaxis outside the hospital setting, and once an anaphylactic reaction starts, a medication called epinephrine is the first-line treatment for the reaction," LaFemina explains.

2. A food allergy can develop at any age.

So even if you've been allergy-free your whole life, you could still pick up a new intolerance. Bummer. "About 9 million adults in the U.S. have a food allergy. Many learned of their allergy while consuming a food they had regularly eaten for most of their lives," she says.

1. Eight foods (milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish) account for the majority of food allergy reactions in the U.S.

However, it's possible to be allergic to almost any food. "More than 170 foods have been reported as causing allergic reactions worldwide," LaFemina says.

The FARE Walk for Food Allergy kicks off at 9 a.m. Saturday, November 15, at Tropical Park Equestrian Center, 7900 Bird Rd., Miami. Participants can sign up individually or as part of a team. Visit foodallergywalk.org/sefl2014.

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