Speaking from experience – this is one category that has been a source of annoyance for me for a long time. Recently, it seems there has become a new awareness of just how devistating allergies can actually be to those who have them.
I am thinking specifically when talking about new awareness to the peanut and gluten allergies. I cannot fathom the stress that might accompany having a child with a peanut allergy and hoping no child in his school brings in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And while most aren’t as severe as that, I can tell you that just existing without coming in contact with peanuts has got to be mind-boggling. Not only do you have to read ingredient labels, and avoid the obvious, but you also have to be aware of items that may have been cross contaminated in factories that produce non-peanut items.
I have a medium size “list” of allergies, but my food allergies are to both fructose and corn. I guess they go hand in hand really. Fructose is fruit sugar and it’s just about everywhere and in just about everything called fruit (even lemons). High Fructose Corn Syrup is made from corn. With this type of allergy, I really can come close to a peach, or an ear of corn ~ I just can’t eat it. If someone sneaks some into my food ~ I know it pretty quickly. The first thing that happens is my sinuses swell and that’s a pretty obvious outward sign because you will hear me trying to breathe. I then usually go into an asthma attack, the severity of which is determined by the amount I ingested. Sometimes my face swells or I break out in a rash, or just itch all over or get really nasty. I have identified several of the ones that cause “really nasty” and let me just say I absolutely and totally avoid them.
Histimines which cause this reaction are in general good things. They are part of everyone’s immune systems and they are there to protect against intruders who don’t belong (like bacteria, germs, and viruses). Histimines are also present in other bodily functions as well, as a neurotrasmitter (chemical brain messager) and also they help to release gastic acid into your stomach to help digest your food. It’s their massive release due to your hyper sensitivity to something that really causes the allergic type reaction and the problem.
Reactions can vary and I am of the opinion that many of things that make us feel sick can be related back to having a sensitivity to something. Finding that something is the real challenge. Some common reactions are itching, swelling, nasal congestion, asthma symptoms, and hives. These can be local (ie just one side of your body) or can affect your entire body. The most severe and the one that you never want to encounter is anaphylactic shock.
Anaphylaxis is a form of allergic shock resulting from an extreme reaction, and an extreme amount of histamine being released into your body at one time from any drug, food, environmental, or insect allergy. It can involve the entire body, and cause many series issues. The top on the list is the swelling of your throat so you cannot breathe. This has happened in extreme peanut allergies(to children and adults) but happens from many other sources as well. Those who know they have the potential for that usually carry an epi-pen, which is an emergency dose of medicine to “kill the reaction” as fast as possible.
I personally take anti-histimines and decongestants almost every day. They have kept most of my allergies under control. I have been advised by my doctor as to what I need to do if I encounter a reaction and “need time” to get to a hospital when traveling, and I keep all those “supplies” with me to make sure I can survive a severe attack. They say 20% of the population suffers from some sort of allergy, here’s hoping you are not one of them.