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Food Allergies Are Getting Way More Common and Severe

Your affinity for peanuts and dairy products might yield some sickening consequences. A new study conducted by the non-profit Fair Health, which studies private health insurance markets, found that instances of anaphylactic food reactions -- potentially fatal allergic reactions that require hospitalization -- have skyrocketed over the last decade, registering a grim 377% increase from 2007 to 2016. To put that into similarly jarring terms, that's a five-fold increase from the rate of attacks recorded 10 years ago.

According to the study, which examined a whopping 23 billion private insurance claims filed by 150 million patients over the time period, America's fraught battle with peanut allergies continues apace, although the dilemma is far more galling for young people. Altogether, Fair Health reports that "patients 18 years old and younger accounted for 66 percent of the claim lines," and people "over 18 years old the remaining 34 percent." Overall, peanuts accounted for 26% of the claims recorded, tree nuts and seeds came in at 18%, followed by egg allergies (7%), crustacean allergies (6%), and dairy (5%).

Perhaps most jarringly, though, is that doctors haven't reached a set conclusion as to why the uptick has been so severe. There could be environmental factors at play, but evolutionary changes to the human immune system can play a part too, according to a report by ABC News. Parent's over-reliance on antibiotics to treat young children's maladies has been linked to an upswing in food allergy diagnoses, according to study from last year, while a surge in C-section deliveries has also been cited as a potential catalyst for allergic disorders in kids.

The scope of public knowledge concerning food allergies remains limited, but the best possible advice would be to listen to your body, and maybe cut down on your peanut-intake. After all, that's as good a reason as any to ward off a trip to the hospital.

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Sam Blum is a News Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's also a martial arts and music nerd who appreciates a fine sandwich and cute dogs. Find his clips in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and Esquire. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster.