Health: Hotline for food allergies

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IKK Südwest's health hotline on food allergies on June 21 - 66 percent of those affected are women

The number of therapies that are prescribed to patients due to food allergies or intolerances is increasing. This is confirmed by current evaluations by the IKK Südwest. While only every 114th insured person of the IKK had to be treated as an outpatient five years ago, today it is already every 38th insured person. 66 percent of these are women (2006: 64 percent). The largest proportion of women affected is in the group of 20- to 40-year-olds with 28.8 percent (2006: 26.2 percent), followed by over-41-year-olds with 22.7 percent (2006: 21, 4 percent). The least affected are the 13 to 19 year old girls (6.3 percent).

"Almost every third German already suffers from an allergy, and the proportion of food allergies and intolerances is increasing," says Marie-Louise Conen, IKK health consultant and graduate engineer (FH) for nutrition and household technology. "The most common diagnoses are lactose or histamine intolerance, celiac disease (gluten intolerance) and fructose malabsorption (fructose intolerance)".

On the occasion of the German Food Allergy Day on June 21, 2011, the IKK Südwest is offering a telephone hotline for people who suffer from a food allergy or intolerance or have questions about this topic. Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the IKK health advisors Marie-Louise Conen and Eva-Maria Haas answer questions from those affected on the free IKK health hotline 0800/0 119 000.

If the body is hypersensitive to certain foods, it should first be clarified whether it is an allergy or an intolerance. Chicken eggs, fish, milk, fruits and legumes are the most common triggers. "In the case of a food allergy, a test detects antibodies in the blood," explains Marie-Louise Conen, "but in the case of intolerance, the diagnosis is often pure detective work." The reactions to an allergy usually set in within 30 to 60 minutes. "This makes it easier to narrow down the triggers in question," says Conen. In the case of an intolerance, however, this can take a few minutes or a few days. In addition, the symptoms are very different and range from gastrointestinal complaints, headaches and runny nose to a drop in blood pressure.

"Not only are we seeing a greater number of therapies, we are also seeing that interest in this topic is increasing and the number of inquiries from us is increasing significantly," says Marie-Louise Conen. "Many people have become more sensitive to the subject of nutrition, especially under the influence of current events such as the dioxin scandal, rotten meat affair or, very recently, EHEC pathogen." The IKK currently looks after over 680,000 insured and more than 100,000 companies in Hesse , Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland. IKK Südwest can be reached around the clock, seven days a week, via the free IKK service hotline 0800/0 119 119. (pm)

Image: Peter von Bechen /

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Video: Understanding Food Allergy

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