Students Experience Food Allergies

Waking up one morning with an allergic reaction is never ideal. Most people don’t even realize when they have a food allergy, which makes these unexpected symptoms an intense and uncomfortable situation for any person. A food allergy can be a scary reality if we don’t watch what we eat and how we take care of ourselves.

Unlike seasonal allergies, one of the most unsettling parts about food allergies is you don’t know when to expect them. They can suddenly arise after eating a certain food for as long as you can remember and then you have to stay away from it forever. Food allergies are a funny thing, but it’s not something to take lightly. If you notice any unusual reactions, even something as minor as swelling of the tongue, you must seek medical attention.

“Having a food allergy is really frightening. I once ate peanuts and afterward my tongue was very swollen. I had never had a bad reaction before, and I didn’t know what was happening,” junior Taylor Glickman said. “All my life I loved peanut butter, now I can’t eat it because I randomly developed a food allergy when I got older. I’m forced to avoid anything with peanuts and it’s upsetting.”

According to Mayo Clinic, reactions to a food allergy can vary from uncomfortable to severe, and an allergic reaction can even be life threatening. Symptoms develop within a few minutes to two hours after eating. The most common food allergy symptoms range from hives, itching, eczema to abdominal pain. Other possibilities include dizziness, vomiting, swelling of the face, tongue and throat, as well as nasal congestion and trouble breathing.

Adult Nurse Practitioner Associate Director of Health and Services at Ramapo College, Debra Lukacsko, expresses, “There really is no way to avoid food allergies. It depends on your immune system response to the foods. Once you have an allergic reaction, you will know to avoid the food and thereby avoid the reaction.” Lukascsko continues, “You cannot predict to which foods you may be allergic. Some food allergies run in families but not all do. Even if member[s] of your family are allergic to a food item, it does not mean you will be. You may have a slightly higher chance of being allergic to the food item but it is not a guarantee that you will be allergic to it.”

“I can’t imagine suddenly developing a bad food reaction. I’ve been lactose intolerant my whole life and I have to say even when I know my stomach is sensitive to certain foods, it’s very hard and I eat them anyway. Who can stay away from ice cream? Restrictions on food are the worst but you should never test your body when you know something is bad for you,” junior Jill Landi said.

Lukacsko clarifies, however, that most food reactions aren’t caused by a true food allergy. They’re caused by an intolerance that is generally limited to digestive problems. The most common foods that cause allergies are milk, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, wheat and shellfish. It all depends on your immune system and how it reacts, she stresses.

“Apart of taking care of yourself means following up with anything that seems abnormal. Some people may think a mild reaction to food is okay once the feeling has gone away, but the truth is it could be an indication of a bigger problem. Stay active and always follow up with your doctor if something unusual happens.” senior Jamie Sarikin said.