Roughly 30 percent of Americans think they have a food allergy, but a new study by doctors at The University of California at Los Angeles suggests the number is much lower.
According to a study by doctors at UCLA, only 8 percent of children and less than 5 percent of adults have real food allergies.
"I'm not surprised," said Dr. Sandeep Gupta, an allergy doctor at Texas Health Dallas. "A lot of times, people are told one thing, or they have something unusual happen, and so they try and avoid it."
Gupta said patients sometimes come in complaining of what they think is an allergic reaction that set in a few days after they ate the questionable food.
"And typically with food ingestion, it's going to be minutes to a couple hours later; not more than six hours," he said. "If it's over six hours, it's typically not a food allergy."
But Gupta said he is seeing patients allergic to foods that weren't too common a few years ago.
"We never saw sesame seed before, but sesame seeds are now almost everywhere -- on buns, Asian food, what have you -- so sesame seed allergies are actually increasing," he said.
He also noted that he has seen a small uptick in patients who are allergic to avocados.
Gupta said tests such as food challenges can help determine a real allergy.
A food challenge is a doctor-monitored "blind taste test" that allows patients to sample disguised food. If certain people don't have a reaction after eating the food they thought they were allergic to, chance are, they weren't allergic, Gupta said.