When you aren’t what you eat

May 21, 2018

Anyone who has ever been to a public school has probably seen the signs “Peanut-Free zone” or “No soy beyond this point.”

However, often times people forget to see the people behind the signs, the people who have the food allergies.

Senior Craig Nothnagel, who was born allergic to both peanuts and tree nuts, is one example. “Basically, you just have to get used to asking, in like restaurants,” Nothnagel explained. “You also have to get good at reading labels in the grocery store.”

Like Nothnagel, roughly 1 in 13 or 7.6 percent of American children suffer from some sort of food allergy, according to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE).

“There’s a lot of stuff I’ll have to think about eating,” senior Colin Lilley describes. “And I just don’t eat the stuff; it’s not a big deal.”

Lilley suffers from Oral Allergy Syndrome, a disorder in which the sufferer receives an allergic reaction from a variety of foods as opposed to any specific food allergy.

Despite that number, only a small amount of allergens account for more than 90 percent of all food-related hypersensitivities. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) reports, they are eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy.

Reactions resulting from food allergies can range from painful, irritating hives on the body of the affected person and vomiting, to a potentially lethal condition known as Anaphylactic Shock.  

One of the most common results of Anaphylaxis is the swelling of the throat, which if left untreated, can be fatal.

If the affected person goes into Anaphylactic Shock, they will need to act fast with an adrenaline shot, more commonly called an EpiPen.

“Basically, the policy is, if think you’re having an allergic reaction, I’m going to stick you with it,” secretary Courtney Fletcher explained.

Failure to do so will result in the condition getting more and more severe to the point of possible death due to the swelling and obstruction of the breathing passageways.

Due to the high quality of care in the U.S., it is exceptionally rare to die of Anaphylaxis.

One 2014 study by the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology suggests that the death rate due to complications from Anaphylaxis could be as low as .86 per every million people in the United States.

While the exact cause of allergies is not completely known or understood, ongoing research suggests that a combination of genetic and environmental factors could play a part.

Often times, however, those with severe allergies are able to lead normal lives, so long as they are not exposed to their allergens. Many students are excited about the prospect of children with allergies being able to lead normal lives.

“It’s hard having a food allergy to egg because I can’t eat some of the foods I like,” freshman Mackenzye Yannella clarified. “Like fried rice from Chinese restaurants, but it isn’t hard to avoid eating them in my everyday life.”

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