Is it just me or does it seem like most people are allergic to something these days? I imagine at some point you have been out to dinner with someone who said that they couldn’t order something because they are “allergic” to it. Have you ever been on an airplane where they would not serve peanuts because someone on the plane is allergic to nuts? Recently, I baked brownies for my son’s class and was told not to put nuts in them because there was a student who was severely allergic. However, this was the first time I had heard that one of his classmates was allergic to nuts, as I have been sending my son to school everyday with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! I am fairly certain someone would have asked me to stop sending in peanut butter sooner.
So are people really allergic to some many different things or are we just overreacting to allergies? There is a difference between an allergy, which is severe and could be life threatening, and an intolerance, which is an inability to digest or process something. An allergic reaction will come on suddenly and will be triggered by a small amount. An intolerance will come on gradually only if you are exposed to a large amount of something your body cannot process. According to WedMd, an intolerance is 90% of the time triggered by food, such as lactose or food additives or gluten. Symptoms of an allergic reaction will include rash, hives, itchy skin, difficulty breathing, drop in blood pressure, and chest pain. Symptoms of an intolerance are cramps, gas, bloating, irritability, headache, and heartburn. It is important to know the difference because an allergic reaction can be life threatening and requires immediate medical attention.
What do you think? Are we just too quick to say “I’m allergic”?