I know what many of you are thinking, ugh, a boring blog about someone’s kid who is allergic to peanuts! Believe me before October 22, 2014 I never gave food a thought, except for what I was planning to eat at my next meal of course! What I have found through our journey is that there is an enormous gap about what food allergies are and what being anaphylactic really is. My mission is only to educate those whom have misconceptions or have fallen prey to the bad propaganda that exits about food allergies. If I change someone’s mind about the seriousness of food allergies or if I help a parent whose trying to navigate this world then I have accomplished my mission!
The fact is food allergies have risen over 60% since the late 90’s! That is why we are seeing such an increase in the amount of food allergic children and adults. Although many allergists and immunologists are working diligently to find a cure for those affected, the fact of the matter is they don’t even know what to attribute the spike to or even why food allergies happen to some people and not others.
Below I have listed the three biggest misconceptions I run into when educating people about food allergies.
Misconception #1: Food allergies are just like seasonal allergies…NOT TRUE
Food allergies can range from mild, just a tickle in your throat, to severe, anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a severe, life threatening, reaction that happens when someone ingests the food. In Masons case, any type of nut. The body then has a severe response to the food (extreme hives, throat closing, coughing, vomiting, wheezing, light-headed, nausea, feeling faint). If the body ingests too much of the allergen (food) the reaction could result in death.
Misconception #2: Benadryl can stop a severe allergic reaction….NOT TRUE
The only medicine used to treat anaphylaxis is epinephrine. Most allergist will tell patients if they are having a severe reaction to use their Epipen auto injector and to take Benadryl or Zyrtec. The Benadryl and Zyrtec are antihistamines and will only treat the itching and the hives. If someone is having a severe reaction Benadryl and Zyrtec will not suppress the immune system and stop the reaction. Always call 911!
Misconception #3: People are only allergic to the top 8 foods….NOT TRUE!
People can be severely allergic or anaphylactic to any food! The top 8 or big 8 are identified as the foods the most people are anaphylactic to. That does not mean because it is not in the top 8 that you can’t be anaphylactic to it, it just means these foods affect a big majority of the population. The top 8 are (in no particular order) : milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. Any of the top eight allergens have to be listed on ingredient labels at super markets although spices don’t have to be listed and some spices may contain some of the top allergens ….go figure!