“Oh, everyone is allergic to something these days.”
“I can’t even make my son a PB&J for lunch because there are kids in his class that are allergic to peanuts!”
“Gluten-free allergies aren’t real. It’s just a trend.”
It is not a trend.
Allergies are a real medical problem that people deal with every day and all day. While they might be off making a very specific food, they are also constantly worrying about a certain outcome, maybe being stung by a bee or insect, cross-contamination, or coming into contact with latex products.
Allergies are considered a chronic disease. All allergies are extremely overlooked, and when coupled with asthma, they are the fifth most common chronic disease according to The Asthma + Allergy Foundation of America.
There is no cure. There is only avoidance by the person with the allergy.
You can believe that something in our food or environment is changing and therefore causing more allergies than ever before. Sure.
This belief does not discredit the legitimate medical problem. Who cares if it happened because the food might be a little more processed than 200 years ago? The allergy is still an allergy that people suffer through every day.
There is no point in questioning someone when they say they have an allergy or grilling them on if it is real or if they eat this or that, etc. Allergies affect everyone differently, allergies are real, and allergies are serious—they should not be second-guessed.
Allergies vary from a grumbly tummy, swelling, hives, itchiness, and everything in between and then all the way to anaphylactic shock. None of these allergic reactions should be discounted in the least. Most of all, anaphylactic shock can quickly lead to death, and therefore the rest of the population must be very aware.
Anaphylactic shock is where one’s body begins to shut down because of the allergic reaction. Yes, I just said shut down. Each person is different, but things like blood pressure drop cause other systems in your body to collapse, and many people’s breathing is impaired by their throat swelling. Within a matter of minutes, someone's airways can be blocked.
Each allergic reaction, even if it is to the same thing, is different for everyone.
All of the allergic reactions out there are cause for worry and vigilance.
An upset stomach may seem like a small allergic reaction, low in severity… but all pain must be taken seriously. And honestly, who wants to live all of their life constantly feeling bloated? Living in pain really doesn’t sound fun.
Having a bee allergy might seem like not a big deal because rarely do bees sting people. However, the person with the allergy has to go around on summer days worrying about getting stung by a bee. That worry isn’t something one needs to have on their shoulder regardless of the severity of the reaction (whether it be hives or anaphylactic shock). Insect allergies affect about 5% of the population, according to the CDC, and at least 40 deaths occur each year in the US from insect stings. Anaphylactic shock obviously is incredibly serious, as one can die within a matter of minutes. Allergies aren’t a joke.
Managing a daily life with an allergy isn’t something that you can just shrug off and let go. Living in constant worry, a whole other weight on your shoulders-- possibly life or death, isn’t something that should be disrespected or taken lightly by the rest of the population. In 2014, the CDC reported that 8.5 million children in the US have a skin allergy and 4 million have a food allergy. This is not including all other allergies, like insects, latex, medications, etc.
Recognize allergies. All types of allergies—recognize them all. Do not dismiss them as a trend, or ‘just’ a tummy ache. The less severe allergies are important because they affecting lives every day. The more severe allergies are important not only because they affect everyday lives, but because they can cause death within a matter of minutes.
Treat allergies as what they are: a chronic disease. Allergies of all sorts affect all sorts, so be mindful. Be respectful.
(And figure out how to use an Epi-pen… directions are on the outside).