While driving around the other day sipping my latte, I wondered about all the odd allergies that people may have. By the way, my latte was decaf, because I can’t really do caffeine. It makes me feel very odd, shaky, anxious, even hungry and sleepy. Is this an allergy? A sensitivity? How many other people have unexplainable “weird” feelings after ingesting certain things or being in certain places?
I do think others share my coffee reaction, but because it doesn’t have the traditional allergic symptoms, we don’t really worry with it, just sort of tone down our coffee intake. I know some can be hypersensitive to caffeine; they are more affected by it in smaller doses. So is that an allergic reaction or again, just sensitivity, or neither?
I had a friend who could not drink wine and eat scallops in the same meal. She could do either one separately and be fine, but combine the two and she had a reaction. She would feel light headed and faint, though never experienced any swelling, hives, itchiness or anaphylaxis. Needless to say, she doesn’t drink wine when ordering scallops after two or three of these episodes, but nothing was ever diagnosed professionally.
Though there are the “major” allergens we all know (soy, wheat, nuts, peanuts, eggs, etc.) there are a lot of other things out there that make a lot of us sick. I have heard of lettuce allergies, avocado allergies, fava bean allergies. Basically people with these allergies just avoid like any other allergy, but it’s harder because the awareness is not there. People are starting to get the dangers of a peanut allergy, but if you say you are allergic to lettuce, the impact isn’t there.
I have heard stories of people developing headaches on cloudy days; is this allergy to weather? What about the “achoo syndrome,” the instance of sneezing when you walk out of a building into the sun? Is it an allergy or just a quirky medical condition? How about if you sometimes have a reaction, is that an allergy?
I think all of us probably have something that doesn’t agree with us and usually that’s termed a sensitivity. Many experts don’t like to differentiate between a sensitivity and an allergy because of the inconsistencies of allergy symptoms. So what should we call it? Should we be cautious and frighten people and say we have an allergy, or be less conservative and make light of what could possibly be a serious condition?
The bottom line, know your own self, if something feels weird for you, you probably want to stay away, even if it isn’t one of the “Big 8.” For all we are learning of allergies and the awareness being spread, obviously there is still a lot out there we don’t know!
- Heather Legg