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Allergy Definition

What is an allergy?  To my generation and my parents' generation it basically meant a runny nose.  But over the past forty years, a lot has changed.  There can be much frustration in trying to explain the seriousness of a true allergy to adults and grandparents for this reason.  To exacerbate the problem, there is no good way to prove the point.  In other words, one cannot show another person or grandparent what a reaction looks like because it is simply too dangerous. 

Here are a few definitions that likely contribute to the misunderstanding of serious food allergies: "A damaging immune response by the body to a substance, especially pollen, fur, a particular food, or dust, to which it has become hypersensitive." Or, "An allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. Symptoms include red eyes, itchiness, and runny nose, eczema, hives, or an asthma attack."

Instead, I'd recommend explaining a real food allergy--one that can result in anaphylaxis--as a "serious allergy" or an "anaphylactic allergy."  Then if someone asks what is meant by serious or anaphylactic, part of this definition from WebMD can be provided, "Anaphylaxis is a sudden, severe allergic reaction. It's a medical emergency.  Most people with allergies never have anaphylaxis. But when it happens, it works like this:  Within minutes or hours of being exposed to your allergy trigger, your body starts a chain reaction that temporarily widens your blood vessels, which can lower your blood pressure. You may pass out. You may get hives and swelling, especially around your face and throat. You may have trouble breathing, talking, or swallowing."

Part of our responsibility as parents or people with serious allergies is to educate others.  We can't give up.  Thank you.




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