Are you allergic to anything? Allergies to various things are quite common today.

Maybe you’re allergic to a particular kind of medicine or certain animals, such as cats or dogs. Chances are you may also be or know someone who is allergic to certain foods.

Beyond the inconvenience of not being able to enjoy certain foods, food allergies can cause serious reactions that can be quite dangerous and even deadly if not treated quickly. Unfortunately, there is no cure for food allergies. For those who suffer from them, avoiding certain foods is the only way to prevent dangerous allergic reactions.

Food allergies are becoming more and more common, and scientists do not yet understand why. In fact, peanut allergies in children doubled in the five-year span from 1997 to 2002.

Today, more than 12 million Americans have food allergies, and more than 3 million of those are children under the age of 18. That means about one of every 25 children — or, on average, at least one in every classroom in America — has food allergies.

Although people can be allergic to just about any food, most food allergies are caused by eight foods: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat. When people are allergic to foods, their bodies’ immune systems experience an abnormal reaction to the proteins in the foods.

If they eat or otherwise come into contact with the foods, their immune systems think the foods are dangerous and release histamine and other chemicals to fight the perceived danger. This causes an allergic reaction, including symptoms such as shortness of breath, trouble swallowing, coughing, vomiting and even loss of consciousness.

People with food allergies, especially those who also have asthma, are at risk for an extremely serious allergic reaction called “anaphylaxis.” Anaphylaxis can occur very quickly and may cause death if not treated promptly.

Each year, anaphylaxis from food allergies leads to more than 50,000 emergency room visits. If people with food allergies experience anaphylaxis, it’s critical that they receive medical attention as quickly as possible.

The effects of anaphylaxis can be countered by administering epinephrine (also known as adrenaline). Those with food allergies often carry epinephrine with them in case of emergency in the form of an EpiPen®.

Although there is currently no cure for food allergies, carefully choosing foods and always reading food labels can help those affected by food allergies to avoid dangerous reactions. People who suffer from food allergies have to be very careful at all times, though.

Ingredients can change without warning. Moreover, some allergies can be so severe that reactions can occur from eating foods that were simply manufactured in a facility that also processes peanuts or another food that someone is allergic to.

 

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    • Thanks for sharing this AWESOME comment today, Abby/M.C! People with food allergies DO have to be vigilant when it comes to choosing their snacks and meals. They can still enjoy SO MANY types of foods, though! :-)

  1. Here, in my class students have raised their hands, about having their friends or others being allergic to peanuts. It was alot of them. And ya,it would be pretty sad if you can’t eat almost anything the food that you really like alot. I’m allergic to this medicine and I forgot the name of it.. haaha, but I’m quite sure I know the color of it and it is pink. Plus if I take that medicine it will make my face all bumpy and bubbly.

    • Lots of people are allergic to certain medicines, E, so you are not alone! Thanks for stopping by Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • Thanks for sharing with everyone today, shania! We’re sure some of our other Wonder Friends would be interested in hearing what it’s like to be allergic to so many foods. Can you share some of the ways you make sure the foods you eat won’t make you sick? :-)

    • We hope she is OK, jasmine! That must be a scary thing to go through. Thank you for visiting Wonderopolis today!

    • We’re glad you learned a little more about your food allergies from this Wonder of the Day®, jusin! Thanks so much for being a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

  2. Hi Wonderopolis!!!
    I was just looking back at some of the recent Wonders and saw this one. I was interested in this topic because, like Abby, I have a friend with peanut allergies (I think we were both thinking of the same person:D)That video on this wonder really made me think of how hard it must be to not be allowed to eat the majority of what other people can:( I felt really bad for Hayden and all of the challenges he’s facing. (Sorry, this “comment” was kind of long)

    • We think you and Abby are GREAT friends for caring so much about others, Brooke/M.C! Thank you for your AWESOME comment! :-)

  3. Hi!! I love peanut butter, specifically JIF, and I can’t even imagine what it would be like to not be able to eat it :( :( :( :( :(
    That would be crazy sad…. O_O

    • Thanks for commenting today, :D! People who have food allergies adapt really well! They might be sad at first that they can’t eat a certain food, but we bet they cheer right up when they think of all the WONDERful things they CAN eat! :-)

    • That’s always best, Shania! Moms and dads care a lot about us and want to make sure we stay healthy! Thanks so much for sharing today! :-)

    • What an interesting article on food allergies, Duane! Thank you so much for sharing it with us! It makes everyone in Wonderopolis very happy when our friends explore each Wonder further and share what they’ve found! :-)

    • Thanks so much for sharing your personal connection to this Wonder of the Day®, Anna! We appreciate hearing from our Wonder Friends! :-)

  4. Some people are allergic to tree nuts or peanuts. We all have different allergies, or we simply don’t have any at all. I am allergic to pollen.

    • Hello, Paige! We know lots of Wonder Friends (kids and grown-ups, alike) who are allergic to pollen! It makes season changes a little difficult to deal with, especially Spring when everything is blooming, blooming, blooming! Thank you for sharing your personal experiences with allergies…we appreciate your comment! :-)

    • Hi, Mandy! Thank you for sharing your personal connection to peanut allergies. Have you always known you had this allergy? Can you eat other kinds of nuts, just not peanuts? We were hoping you could share a little more about your experience so other Wonder Friends might better understand what it’s like to live with such a serious food allergy.

  5. I have 3 connections:
    1: Food Allergy Awarness Week is the same week as my birthday (May 10).
    2: I have anaphylaxis allergies to milk.
    3: I was just in the hospital last week for an anaphylaxis attack.I am recovering well. I still am getting blood drawn a lot, going to the doctors a lot and I still feel really weak. I just came home yesterday! I almost died in the attack. I stayed on the ventilator for 5 days. I was in the hospital for 10 days.

    I hope you might learn a little from this comment!!!!!

    • We’re so sorry to hear that you were in the hospital because of an anaphylactic attack, Food Allergy Girl! That must have been very scary for you and your family. We are SO, SO glad that you are recovering now and are grateful that you shared your experience with everyone here in Wonderopolis so we might better understand what it’s like to live with severe food allergies.

      We hope you feel better very soon…thank you for being such a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

    • Isn’t it interesting to think about our taste buds, Skye? For example, your sense of smell and taste are linked– so even though you CAN eat peanuts, your senses would prefer if you DON’T! :) Thanks for sharing your COOL comment with us today! :)

  6. I don’t find it fair how some people are allergic to peanuts. I love peanuts!!!! My friend Quianna LOVED butterfingers until she found out she was allergic. And I just think about me, WITHOUT cashews and pistachios -sorry don’t know how to spell- it is just sad.

    • It’s unfortunate, but some people have allergic reactions to many things, including foods. Even though peanuts are delicious, if you’re allergic, it’s important to stay away! Allergic reactions can be painful and serious to your health. Thanks for reminding us, Quincy! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Why can’t some people eat peanuts?
  • What are the most common food allergies?
  • What is anaphylaxis?

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peanut_shutterstock_65456719Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Want to learn how to be a PAL and Protect A Life from food allergies? Allergic reactions can happen anytime, anywhere.

You never know when you might save someone’s life, so always be on the lookout! If you have friends with food allergies, here’s how you can be their PAL:

  • Understand how serious food allergies are, and don’t make jokes about them. Your friends who deal with food allergies have enough to worry about already. Seek to make their lives easier by showing you care.
  • Even though you’ve been taught to share with others, don’t share food with friends who have food allergies. They have to be extra careful about the foods they eat, so don’t put them in a position of having to refuse your offer, since they can’t know for sure what’s in it or if it could be dangerous to them.
  • Always wash your hands after eating. Washing your hands often will help you stay healthy and make sure you don’t transfer leftover food to friends who may have allergies.
  • Talk with your friends about the foods they’re allergic to. Help them avoid these foods when you’re together. Remind them to check labels carefully!
  • Recognize the signs of an allergic reaction and seek help immediately if you see them. Here are some symptoms to watch for: vomiting, facial swelling, difficulty breathing, coughing, sneezing and skin that’s swollen, itchy or red.

You can help spread the awareness about food allergies this week by printing the How You Can Be a PAL to Friends Who Have Food Allergies brochure and asking your teacher to post it in your classroom for everyone to read!

You can also watch this video for more ideas about things you can do during Food Allergy Awareness Week!

 

Still Wondering

Want to learn more about the body’s natural defense systems? Check out Science NetLinks’ Germs and the Body lesson to learn more about where germs exist, how they can get into and affect the body, and how the body defends itself against them.

 

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