Food Allergies at a Steady Incline

By: Dylan Rodgers

What would cause a body to kill itself?  I am sure the first answer to conjure in your mind wasn't "food".  It wouldn't have seemed logical to accuse the very thing that sustains our lives as the cause of roughly 200 deaths per year.  To be clear, I am not talking about improperly handled foods or even bacteria contaminated meats; these deaths occur from allergic reactions to entirely clean, well-prepared meals.

Food allergies aren't anything new.  In fact, an estimated 15 million Americans deal with food allergies on a daily basis.  The thing that has peaked public interest over the years is that food allergies are steadily rising, especially in children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that food allergies have risen 18 percent from 1997 to 2008.  This of course includes the mildest of reactions like an itchy throat or tingly sensations in the mouth, but this growing problem isn't to be taken lightly.

Peanut allergies are notoriously dangerous afflictions.  Roughly 160 people die from peanut allergies annually.  Ingesting the slightest amount of peanut-anything can be potentially fatal by initiating an entire body shutdown.

When the peanut, and often other tree nut protein is consumed, it can cause the body's defenses to attempt to fight off the 'invading' proteins with antibodies.  This reaction triggers the release of histamines that can affect a person's respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, and cardiovascular system.  The most severe cases end up in anaphylaxis where the airways sell to a close and the blood pressure drops, causing the person to lose consciousness.

As we look for the cause and possible solutions to food allergies, educating the public on the immense gravity of this situation remains solely important.  This information isn't designed to send the masses into an irrational panic stopping the sales of peanuts throughout the country by any means.  The point is that anyone with such an allergy should carry their epinephrine shots constantly.  You simply never know when it might save your life.

Photo: EuroMagic

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