Are extreme food allergies making you sick?

I can painfully recall what it was like to see my son laid across the doctors table, on his stomach, with a block containing what looked like 40 pins pressed into his small back. I cringed as pressure was applied to the block and tried my best to comfort the whimpering child.

I’m not describing some form of medieval torture, but instead the dreaded skin prick allergy test. Turns out he joins the ranks of millions allergic to pollen.

There are many common allergies such as ragweed, animal dander, dust mites and even latex. Food allergens are also not news – the peanut-free classroom signs at school indicate our awareness and the effects of some food allergies. In fact, eight foods are responsible for 90 percent of all food allergies.

However, there are some very uncommon, and thereby extreme, food allergens lurking out there. For example, did you know that apples and marshmallows can inspire allergic reactions in some? Other uncommon allergens may be found in:

·         Meat (lamb, pork, beef or chicken) – sugar compounds as opposed to proteins, can cause hives, rash, nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy or watery eyes, nausea, cramps and vomiting

·         Melon – ragweed pollen can leech through the melon rind and cause an itchy mouth

·         Wine –  a flushed face, nasal congestion and an all over itchiness can be caused by sulfites

·         Hot dogs – Annatto seed used to color hot dogs may cause hives and facial swelling

·         Dried fruit – sulfites used to keep dried foods preserved can cause a flushed face and itchy jaw

The most surprising allergy is Aquagenic urticaria. It’s debated whether this allergy to water can be truly classified as such as it doesn’t provoke a histamine-releasing reaction like other allergies. But, for those who endure Aquagenic urticaria, even the slightest contact with water can cause their skin to burn and itch after exposure to water. Drinking it can cause shortness of breath or swelling of the throat.

While food allergies have increased by nearly 20 percent from 1997 to 2007, it’s important to note that some reactions may be more of an intolerance rather than a true allergy as allergies are immune system reactions to stimuli while intolerance is a metabolic reaction. See your primary care physician should you have any adverse reactions to the items above as allergy testing may be required.

What other uncommon food allergies are you aware of?

Photo credit michelle@TNS

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