Food Allergies on the Rise

Food allergies are on the rise and secondary cautions need to be taken

January 27, 2017


“I nearly died,” said Dawn Maxwell. “I was just old enough to understand what was happening. I knew something was wrong.” This was Maxwell’s first encounter with walnuts, but it was also her last. Maxwell, 44, is just a modern, everyday hard-working woman who works at a local restaurant, Iron Horse Grill, who cannot live a normal life due to having major food allergies.

A food allergy is when the body’s immune system sees a certain food as harmful and reacts by causing in most cases, life-threatening symptoms. It is said more than 15 million people in America have food allergies and that about 1 and 3 children are affected by these allergies according to the Food Allergy Research and Education. And keep in mind  But of course, there is no cure what so ever, just strict avoidance of the food that causes the allergic reaction.s.

Abby Urbina, a sophomore at Round Lake High School, has been allergic to strawberries for as long as she can remember. She said “ It is so funny actually, the first time I was allowed cake, I reacted horribly. And being a clear age of one since it was my first birthday, I had no idea what was going on,” she said. “My parents actually did not think I was allergic to strawberries, that maybe I was just having a reaction to the sun since that runs in the family. But the more they tried to feed me the strawberries, the worse my reaction to them got. It started with little rashes on my arms and neck, then it advanced to having a hard time breath[ing], and finally it got to the point in which I needed to be rushed to the hospital. It was nerve-wracking not understanding what was happening to my body.”

Many people like Urbina can never be totally safe when eating foods. They need to be extra careful when buying foods from the grocery store or eating food someone else has provided them. Staying away from forbidden foods is often a struggle for children and adolescents because most eat breakfast and lunch at school, where ingredients are not always readily listed. Many individuals are allergic to more than one food. Maxwell is one of those people. Maxwell stated she is allergic to almost all of the top eight food allergens:  cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. “ It is so hard to find food that I can actually eat that does not contain one of my allergies,” Maxwell said. “Soy [is]so commonly used in most foods, I cannot find food that does not contain soy and the will not empty my pockets. Also, I have realized that being allergic to sesame is by far the most dangerous and frustrating since no company lists sesame in the allergen sections of the food package.”  In fact, many companies do not list sesame on their packages because such a small amount is used. However, to someone with a serious food allergy, even the smallest amount can cause a life-or-death situation. Food allergies have become a worldwide epidemic. The number of people who have a food allergy is growing, but there is no clear answer as to why. Researchers are trying to discover why food allergies are on the rise in developed countries worldwide, and to learn more about the impact of the disease in developing nations. More than 17 million Europeans have a food allergy, and hospital admissions for severe reactions in children have risen seven-fold over the past decade, according to the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI).

As stated, food allergies are life-threatening, as said Maxwell, she nearly died. Maxwell also reported that she wonders how much easier her life could be if she was not bounded by food allergies.

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