June 23, 2022—Living with food allergies can be a challenge. But new research says there's a benefit when it comes to COVID-19. A recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health suggests that having food allergies may lower your risk of getting the virus.
Almost 14,000 households (4,142 individuals) participated in the study by filling out surveys and taking biweekly COVID-19 tests over a six-month period. Researchers used that data to look at how allergies and asthma affect the risk for COVID-19. They found that people with food allergies were half as likely to get COVID-19.
What's the deal with food allergies?
Food allergies occur when a person's immune system reacts in an abnormal way to certain foods. Food Allergy Research & Education reports that 1 in 10 adults and 1 in 13 children have food allergies. Living with food allergies can be difficult and dangerous. But people with food allergies may have a reduced risk of COVID-19.
NIH suggests that one of the reasons those with food allergies may have a lower risk for COVID-19 is the way these allergies affect the cells in the body. Another reason is that families with food allergies may not eat out as often. But the study said these families only had a slightly lower level of exposure.
What about other allergies?
People with asthma, eczema or seasonal allergies did not have lower risk for COVID-19. But their risk wasn't higher than it is for people without those conditions.
On the other hand, those with moderate or severe asthma are still more likely to have a hospital stay from COVID-19.
Here's what else you should know
The researchers found some conditions that did raise the risk for COVID-19: People with obesity or a high body mass index (BMI) were more likely to get the coronavirus.
And while kids under age 13 were less likely to have COVID-19 symptoms, the researchers found that they were just as likely as to get COVID-19.
Whether or not you are living with a food allergy, staying up-to-date on the COVID-19 vaccine is still one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family. You can also help keep yourself safe by wearing a mask and washing your hands.
Learn more about COVID-19 in our Coronavirus topic center.