Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy

Food Allergies and Anaphylaxis

Have you ever experienced Food allergies or anaphylaxis?   Have you ever had to rush medical care for a loved one? Although I haven’t had this in my life, I can only imagine how worrisome it can be. Being a parent to a child who is at risk of anaphylaxis has got to be dramatic and concerning every single day. The only options in those circumstances are to protect, advocate and educate. These parents aren’t being overdramatic, controlling or attention seeking. They are afraid, for their child’s life! Living with an EpiPen becomes a fact of life. My heart goes out to all of you. It really does. Please, if there is anything I can do to help advocate, or educate, leave me a comment below.

Food Allergies and Anaphylacis
An Allergic Nightmare

This scene in this picture while a gorgeous photo, could be an allergic person’s nightmare. Latex, Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Food dye, and who knows what else. Nuts?

While myself, I don’t think I have anaphylactic level reactions I do avoid certain exposures if I can. I have a sensitivity to latex. It may be one of those that is just a warning sign for me. Because of this, I do not touch balloons, and I avoid the tire and automotive departments in stores if I can. I’ve also found certain weeks when the shoe departments can be a problem. I notice dizziness in those departments. My lips tingle for hours if I am around balloons. I will NEVER blow up a latex balloon again. Thank goodness for non-latex products and knowing the medical field has completely changed over their supplies. For those who truly are having anaphylactic reactions, that’s got to be a huge improvement in managing risks.

Food Triggers of Anaphylaxis

We all know these days, many foods have the ability to cause anaphylaxis.  How unsettling to know that an allergy to something in a piece of birthday cake could send someone into a life-threatening condition that will require urgent intervention. A birthday is something fun and food is part of our social connections and traditions. Having life threatening conditions takes the joy out of these celebrations.

According to the study done by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 1 in 50 adults potentially has a risk of severe allergic reactions. This number may be as high as 1 in 20. Chances are someone you work with or someone in your child’s school is at risk every single day.

You can read the study here. Anaphylaxis in America: The Prevalence and Characteristics of Anaphylaxis in the U.S. https://www.aafa.org/media/1597/anaphylaxis-in-america-jaci-article-2014.pdf Unsettling stuff. I will take this moment to remind you, I am not a medical professional. Also, I highly recommend that you learn everything you can about your own conditions. You have to live with your situation, the coping is in your hands. Be empowered. You can still have a fully active and social life.

All that being said, that is not including any chemical or medication triggered reactions. What I am covering is food related. It is good to know for the sake of responsibility that these eight foods are the most likely to be responsible for food allergy reactions.  

  • Shellfish
  • Fish
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts, which includes Almond, Brazil, Cashew, Hazel, Macadamia, Pecan, Pine nuts, Pistachio, Shea, and Walnut.
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Milk
  • Egg

This looks like a wonderful feast for some of us. While for others, they may cringe and see many of their food allergens spread out all in one place.

Partners in Allergic Crime

It’s quite common that if someone has 1 food sensitivity or allergy, there are most likely other triggers as well. For example, it is common to see people who have both asthma and a food allergy to be at a greater risk for anaphylaxis.  Symptoms are severe and often involve 2 or more of these serious reactions.

  • Feeling like Something bad is going to happen. A sense of dread. 
  • Skin reactions, including hives and itching and flushed or pale skin.
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Constriction of your airways and a swollen tongue or throat, which can cause wheezing and trouble breathing.
  • A weak and rapid pulse.
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, with or without stomach pain.
  • Dizziness or fainting.
  • Swelling of lips, tongue, throat, or eyes and nose

Anaphylaxis is a really scary thing.  Sometimes there are allergies that don’t present as severely as anaphylaxis in the beginning.  They may develop more and more severely with each continuing exposure. 

That first bee sting may not kill you, but you swell up in hives.   However, as you’ve gotten older and you age and possibly exposed to more bee stings your risk is higher and higher because it’s such a rare incidents you never know when you’re going to get stung and when it’s going to become an anaphylactic reaction.

Photo by David Mackey from Pexels
Shellfish Allergy

  Sometimes you’re you attend a restaurant or a feast of some kind and you don’t know that there’s going to be shrimp on the menu.  I know our chicken alfredo and shrimp alfredo can look pretty similar until you get in there and start looking at them closely.  Similarly, clam chowder can look very much the same as a potato soup unless you get searching around in there and you actually inquire. 

Everyday Exposures to Food Allergies

   My mom and a brother are both shrimp and shellfish allergic.  I don’t know if it’s to the point of anaphylaxis or not and neither one of them wants to risk it.   

My mom is unable to fully explain her story to me as she now has aphasia and dysphagia. That is she can’t speak, and it is difficult to swallow.   From what I was able to gather, she had quite enjoyed a dinner and aside from a little nausea there were no other immediate symptoms. Simply enough, she felt like she had eaten too much, but she seemed otherwise fine.  No one suspected she would have a delayed reaction. The next day she woke up and she was covered from head to foot in a rash and she was itchy.  She broke out in hives.  While relaying this story to me on her whiteboard that she uses to write her messages to us, she didn’t call it hives.   She called it a rash, and since then she won’t go near shellfish. 

I don’t know if she was ever tested for it but she made that connection confidently enough that she will never even test it and that’s all there is to it.  Shellfish was something unusual that was in her diet and the reaction was unusual so that was that for her.   

Bottom line, Anaphylaxis is life-threatening. Allergies can progress and change. We all need to be more aware and mindful of group settings and serving food or feasting. It doesn’t matter whether we are hosts or guests. If you care about someone with a food allergy, Advocate.

They are not trying to make things “difficult” or “all about them.” This is potentially Life or Death for them.

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