Families & Allergy Comprehension Problems…


Got an interesting email today from Allergic Living Magazine, calling for submissions of stories for people with families who just don’t comprehend the severity of some food allergies, down to simple stubborn refusal to cater to the needs of food-allergic relatives.

From: Allergic Living magazine <Allergic_Living_magazine@mail.vresp.com>
To: [me]
Sent: Fri, September 24, 2010 8:33:04 AM
Subject: Allergies and family feuds

When Family Doesn’t “Get” Food Allergies

Dear Allergic Living reader,

Do you dread visiting your parents because they don’t take the allergy precautions you or your child require? Maybe you have a sister who knows you have a shellfish allergy but insists on serving shrimp? Perhaps your mother-in-law refuses to stop putting out bowls of nuts, even though her grandchild is allergic?

Or have you finally figured out a way to get through to a close relative, and now it’s all smooth sailing?

Allergic Living magazine is researching a feature article for its coming Winter issue on dealing with relatives who fail to grasp the seriousness of allergies or celiac disease. Writer Carolyn Black will be speaking to experts about solutions to help open the lines of communication.

But first, she wants to hear the stories of people’s experiences with family. We commonly hear of allergy feuding, but we want to try to understand why it occurs. If you have such a story, please e-mail Carolyn directly with a brief summary of it at mcarolynblack@rogers.com. If she can use your story, Carolyn will contact you.

Since this can be a delicate subject, Allergic Living can protect people’s identities where necessary. Thanks in advance for helping us with an important article.

Regards,

The Editors at Allergic Living

I’ll have to think about my own stories.  I generally don’t expect family picnics to be shellfish free, but I’m very picky about what I eat at any informal  (or formal) gathering.  For my own internal mental issues, I have to be able to visually identify all the ingredients before I put it on my plate.  I also generally use the wife as my official taste-tester.  Do those mini wraps contain crab?  Does that salad have shrimp? Ha ha.

I’m interested to see the follow-up to this, as dealing with people in general in regards to a severe allergy is difficult enough.  I can’t imagine not having familial support.

I have run into people thought that insist you just need to “eat it a little bit at a time”, suffer the reactions, and “build a tolerance”.  While this may work for some less severe reactions… it’s certainly not advisable in all cases.  I’m thankful that I’m not related to these people.

Food Allergy Awareness Video


This just in from the Food Allergy Initiative, a cool (albeit somewhat creepy) 30-second informational spot.  Doing my part and spreading the word…

…but reminding you that adults suffer from food allergies too.  Ha ha ha.

For more information on allergies in kids & adults, check out these sites:

Aller-G’s


…Saw some more cool tweets about allergies today, again from pnutfreeworld.  They all caught my eye, and put me in a slightly better mood.  I’m not allergic to peanuts, but a lot of other people out there are.  I’m allergic to shellfish, and all of us that suffer from severe allergies need to stick together… so I’ve been following allergy issues on the web more & more.  I thought I might share with the hopes that if you’re out there suffering form allergies, and you happen to stumble upon this blog… you’ll know that there’s a bunch of us out here… or if you have a friend or family member that suffers form allergies, this may offer you some insight into their world.

The first one that jumped out at me today, was this one…

Law Makes Allergies a Restaurant’s Responsibility, Too – A Massachusetts Regulation Requires Restaurants to Get Food Allergy Training

If you saw my blog the other day about the two thrilling tweets, this would be the conclusion.  Apparently it passed! I know… this is odd for me to celebrate.  Normally, I’m anti- anything that has to do with making more rules & regulations or expanding government.  But, this just hits too close for me on a personal level to not be behind it.  I just hope they go about it efficiently.

Basically, the law says that if you’re a customer, you need to speak up and inform the restaurant of your allergy, and if you’re a restaurant, it’s your responsibility to have all of your employees trained and certified on allergy safety and cross contamination issues.  I realize that this is not a fool-proof system, and that I don’t even live near Massachusetts, but it gives me hope that other states may one day follow suit.  I now have something concrete to write about to my local politicians… and say “hey, look… they’re doing something that makes sense”.

Sadly, the legislation doesn’t seem to point to chain restaurants… like Subway, where cross-contamination with the seafood sub is a major issue.  It does, however, give me hope that I will someday be able to dine in an upscale restaurant with no abnormal concern for my safety.

If you’ve read my trifecta of tirades on the food industry & cleanliness & allergy issues, (That’s 1, 2, & 3) then you know that there are others out there who think that implementing such training would not only be impractical, but it would be just not done at all or treated like a joke from all concerned parties.  I really, really hope that’s not the case once this is put into effect.  I would hope that this would be an issue that’s handled quite seriously… it is, after all, a life-or-death issue.

The second article’s title made me think, “damn right”…

Food on the road can be a minefield – Taking steps to minimize the risks from allergies

Now, this is from a Canadian publication, and they seem to have a lot more government regulation already… but I don’t really support banning things like they seem to want to do.  Education and training is what we need. This article is a nice list of websites and literature that you can look to for support in dining out while traveling abroad.

I’m going to have to look into these sites a little more, and see if there’s anything worth noting or sharing.

There are two not mentioned in the article that look promising… but they really need their databases updated if they’re going to be useful at all:  Can I Eat There? & Shellfish Free

I’m also hoping UrbanSpoon.com one day makes note of more than just gluten-allergy friendly restaurants… and picks up on the big 8.

This last one is cool on a geek front as well as an allergy front…

Peanut Allergy Blocker On The Way

The concept just blows my mind.  I’ve said before… even if I was given a cure tomorrow, I doubt I’d ever even want shellfish at this point… but at least I’d be able to eat food off of the same grill or out of the same fryer without hesitation or anaphylactic repercussions.

I’ve read a lot about the causes of allergies… and asked a lot of questions of doctors.  It’s amazing how much they don’t know… but this article is very enlightening, and it’s all broken down so it’s easy to understand:

Dr Suphioglu said that the work being done by his team also has potential benefits for all allergy sufferers. “Taking a step further back in how an allergic reaction occurs, we are also carrying out research into how we can prevent the allergen specific antibodies from being produced at all.

“In an allergic reaction, the body produces cell signalling molecules called cytokines to trigger the production of antibodies. If we can neutralise the cytokines involved with the allergic reaction, we can potentially block or reduce the production of the antibodies. In recent preliminary results we have successfully identified a substance that interacts with one of the key cytokines involved in the allergic reaction. We are now assessing the capacity of this substance to block or reduce antibody production in the allergic reaction.”

Dr Suphioglu is confident that his team’s allergy research work will result in better treatments for allergy sufferers. “I believe our research into understanding the molecular and allergenic properties of major peanut allergens together with our work on how to prevent or inhibit allergic reactions will contribute to the development of safer and more effective methods for peanut allergy diagnosis, prevention and treatment as well as benefit sufferers of other allergies.”

I’ve read a bunch of articles pertaining to the links between asthma and dust mite allergies and their relation to the severe shellfish allergies.  It’s really interesting stuff.  I hope all of these studies merge in the near future, and perhaps there will be an end to all my allergy-related rants!