ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Food allergies are becoming more prevalent in the United States.
According to Food Allergy Research and Education, up to 15 million Americans have food allergies.
The number of people who are allergic to some type of food is growing and researchers aren't sure why.
Allergist Dr. Erin Cannington mentioned that doctors diagnose more children with food allergies, because kids are at the age where they try new things. However, adults can also develop food allergies.
According to Dr. Cannington, the most common food allergens are nuts, seafood, milk, and soy.
Symptoms of food allergies include itchy skin, fatigue, coughing, and loss of breath.
Reactions can vary. Some people may just experience a minor reaction while other reactions could be deadly.
It can be scary for parents who have children with food allergies, especially for parents who can't monitor their child's diet.
Dr. Cannington said it's important for parents to educate their children.
"Children are really smart. When it comes to food allergies, they know what makes them feel bad and what they want to avoid," Cannington said.
And many restaurants are also learning more about how to prevent allergic reactions.
Executive Chef of Merry Acres and Stewbos Timothy Underwood told WALB News 10 that he's seeing more guests with food allergies.
"I know that in terms of what we try to accomplish and do for our guests is to always make available exactly what they need. And if they communicate that up front, we can have exactly what they need so that we can avoid the other issues," Underwood added.
Dr. Cannington said those with food allergies that visit restaurants should make sure that they keep open communication with the restaurant staff.
Also, try to keep the meal simple. The allergist advises people to stay away from entrees that contain several different ingredients.
To further prevent reactions, Dr. Cannington suggests bringing a 'chef card' which can be downloaded here.