With a new guide, Sense About Science and allergy specialists warn that a "sea of over diagnosis" dilutes the life-saving information and advocacy happening around food allergies.
Allergies are better diagnosed and their prevalence is rising, the group acknowledges, but in some cases, "allergy" may be a catch-all diagnosis for unexplained symptoms. Many self-diagnosed people and non-medical diagnosis and treatments are diluting the seriousness of food allergies, the group says.
Most allergy tests outside of an allergists office have no scientific basis.
"These ineffective tests and other kinds of self-diagnosis are creating a large proportion of people who think they have an allergy when they don't," the Sense About Science group says in a release. "One study found 40% of people report they have a food allergy when in fact only 1-5% do."
The guide book, released as Making Sense of Allergies, was published by SAS to help clear the field and emphasize the real problem of severe allergies.
"I come across many misconceptions about allergy, and see the dual problems of over- and under- diagnosis of allergy," said Tariq El-Shanawany, Consultant Clinical Immunologist on behalf of British Society for Immunology. "For example, in some cases patients are following needlessly restrictive diets, but in other cases haven't fully appreciated the importance of strictly avoiding a particular food."
The guide can be found at the link below.