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Multiple food allergies - how common?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
For the mamas posting here, I would guess that a very high percentage have multiple food allergies. Does anyone know what the percentage is in the population? If a child (or adult) has ANY food allergy, what percent has just ONE allergy, and what percent has MULTIPLE food allergies?

And we can also discuss environmental allergies, but I really want to know the percent of people with food allergies who are allergic to more than one food.

If you have links, post 'em. Thanks!!
post #2 of 25
Hard to measure, since most of us here are generally dealing with intolerances (and sometimes IgE as well), and most docs & studies don't count IgG as allergies.
post #3 of 25
My sort of soon to be ex H is allergic to chocolate, olives, treenut, fish, shellfish, and maple, in addition to ragweed and some sort of insect casings. The allergist told us that rarely is a truly allergic person allerice to ONE food, it's more like SOME food.
post #4 of 25
My dd has anaphylactic reactions to peanuts, dairy, eggs and carrots.
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post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamafish9 View Post
Hard to measure, since most of us here are generally dealing with intolerances (and sometimes IgE as well), and most docs & studies don't count IgG as allergies.
Agreed. This practically goes without saying around here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantaja View Post
My sort of soon to be ex H is allergic to chocolate, olives, treenut, fish, shellfish, and maple, in addition to ragweed and some sort of insect casings. The allergist told us that rarely is a truly allergic person allergic to ONE food, it's more like SOME food.
And this is what I would think, too. But I can't seem to find anything reliable about it. Or my googling capabilities aren't up-to-par today.

I am asking because I'm about to have my Health Psych students engage in a food allergy "lab", where they're each assigned to a food allergy for a week and have to avoid that food. I was going to assign some of them to multiple foods, but I wanted to be able to say, "Because X % of people with food allergies are allergic to multiple foods, Y of you will be assigned to more than one food to avoid."

I'm not bringing intolerances into the picture at this point, unless it comes up in the class discussion, but I *might* when we discuss the immune system in a few weeks.

Any suggestions for foods to add to my list? I'm using the top 8 allergic foods, plus corn. The plan is for students to randomly draw a food from a hat, and some will draw a slip of paper that says "multiple food allergies - draw another slip." (I think I won't do that with the corn allergy - that one is a doosy!)

I'm also going to have a couple assigned to an anaphalactic allergy and they have to carry an epi pen all week. Anyone know the percent of food allergic people who have ana reactions?
post #6 of 25
Oo, oo, make someone avoid salicylates for a week

OK, just kidding. I think it's awesome you're doing this.

This page says more than 50%, but they don't cite any references.

http://www.actagainstallergy.com/aaa...allergies.html

If you could get the full text of this article, it might tell you:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/1...256.x/abstract
post #7 of 25
I have no idea of the actual statistics, but won't this be weird if someone finds out they feel better off the one food they're assigned for that week?
post #8 of 25
Nothing scientific to offer, but had to say that Health Psych was probably my favorite course towards my psych degree!!!! Love the assignment!
post #9 of 25
I don't know the actual stats either, DD has multiple intolerances, but no "allergies". She is dairy,watermelon,corn, and tomato free... The dairy is much easier to avoid than the corn is.
post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kjbrown92 View Post
I have no idea of the actual statistics, but won't this be weird if someone finds out they feel better off the one food they're assigned for that week?
Yeah, I've wondered about this.

For the most part, the students in the class have pretty good diets (to the extent they've shared with me). They did a nutrition lab, where they recorded everything they ate in a 24 hour period, and I thought what they ate was fairly reasonable. (They didn't know that they would be recording the foods; they showed up in class one day, and I gave them a handout which asked them to recall all that they ate in the past 24 hrs. Then they had to enter the foods into a nutritional program to see what they were missing in their diets.) None of them have any particular dietary requirements or restrictions, except a diabetic. No vegetarians. More than half are athletes, and they DO eat a lot of power bars and the like.

The dining hall has gotten better in the past year about food allergies. They have better labeling, and, except for the huge vat of peanut butter, it is a nut-free campus, including coconut (because the FDA reclassified it as a tree nut), after a student had 2 life-threatening reactions. There is a gluten-free fridge with goodies in it, including this Amy's chocolate cake, which is simply devine, from an allergy-gluten-free diet perspective.

I'd LOVE something like a sals challenge!! or a feingold-type diet. Maybe I'll put those 2 in the hat, and let the student(s) who pulls them do the research and decide if they want to go through with it. The idea is that they get diagnosed tomorrow in class (pull their allergy), then have until Friday's class to research it, look for support groups, and plan dietary changes. In Friday's class, we will have a rep from the dining hall in to answer questions. Then they have to give up the food for a week, from Friday to Friday, and keep a journal of their experiences.

Which reminds me, I have to go put my son's practice epi-pens into my handbag, because that's what the ana students have to carry around.

Any other suggestions for the assignment?
post #11 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamafish9 View Post
Oo, oo, make someone avoid salicylates for a week

OK, just kidding. I think it's awesome you're doing this.

This page says more than 50%, but they don't cite any references.

http://www.actagainstallergy.com/aaa...allergies.html

If you could get the full text of this article, it might tell you:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/1...256.x/abstract
Well, wow. Thanks for that first link. It's the first place I've seen allergy vs intolerance addressed in a specific way (other than here on MDC).
post #12 of 25
Avoiding food in the dining hall is one kind of challenge, but grocery shopping and reading labels might be really eye opening for them as well (particularly the poor suckers who pull corn ). Could you ask them to put together a shopping list and menu for a couple of days worth of meals from the nearest grocery store?
post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 
Good idea.

I think I'll do 2 things: ask them to plan for their favorite home-cooked meal and ask them to plan for/research their favorite/typical restaurant meal.

I suspect the place where the students encounter the most trouble are those power-energy-protein bars that they eat! A couple of them are yogurt-heavy, and it will be difficult if they draw the dairy card.
post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 
So I've added a couple of "Salicylates" and "Oral Allergy Syndrome" options to the mix. (7% chance of drawing one of those cards, so it might not happen)

Students have a 16.5% chance of drawing a "multiple food allergy" option.

There is a 10% chance of drawing an epi-pen prescription.

I'm over-thinking this way too much.
post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by ASusan View Post
I suspect the place where the students encounter the most trouble are those power-energy-protein bars that they eat! A couple of them are yogurt-heavy, and it will be difficult if they draw the dairy card.
Soy will be the hardest - most of them use soy as the protein base. Yeah, quick, portable snacks in general are hard when you're food restricted. I'd love to hear how it turns out and what the students think!
post #16 of 25
I think it should be required for everyone everywhere. Might make someone develop a little empathy too! What a fantastic project!
post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamafish9 View Post
I'd love to hear how it turns out and what the students think!
Quote:
Originally Posted by kjbrown92 View Post
I think it should be required for everyone everywhere. Might make someone develop a little empathy too! What a fantastic project!
I agree!!!Please let us know how it went.
post #18 of 25
Thread Starter 
The textbook chapter this week is "Using Health Services" or something to that effect. The chapter mentions "food allergies" (in quotes!) under hypochondriasis. Yeah, I talked about that a bit. We had a good class discussion about the mis-fit between the Western bio-medical system and people whose symptoms don't "fit" a disorder or disease criteria...good discussion. It's a place for me to come back and discuss "allergy" vs "intolerance."

I put the 8 foods, plus corn, and syndromes and "multiple allergies - draw 2 cards" and "anaphylactic reaction! EpiPen prescription" on slips of paper, in ratios that I thought might be close to population levels. The first student drew (in this order):

1. multiple allergies - draw until you have 2 food cards.
2. salicylates
3. Anaphylactic reaction, epipen (he has to carry one of my practice pens with him all week)
4. wheat and all wheat derivatives.

What fun he drew!!

The other epi pen was also drawn, as was the second sals option (only 2 of 30 slips of paper, so the odds were quite low). All three of my OAS slips were drawn , each with a different cross-reactant (birch, ragweed, and grass). The students have to research these for Friday's class. At least 2 others drew "multiple allergies," The woman who drew corn thankfully has only that to deal with. ("What will I eat all week?") No one drew fish, which is good, because there aren't a lot of opportunities to even eat fish around here.

They all took it really well. Turns out that several of them know 2 celiacs on campus; they know people who can't eat dairy, wheat, apples...And one of them gave up wheat over the summer, and just tried to add it back in last week and felt AWFUL. She drew the dairy card and has a very dairy-intensive diet (leans toward vegetarian/pescatarin), so that will be a challenge for her. They all seem up to the challenge, though.

Someone from dining services is supposed to come to class on Friday, so students can do consults if they need to.

On a side note, Friday is the start of parents' weekend, and one of the students' parents is getting certified in functional medicine, from http://www.functionalmedicine.org/, I think. She might speak to the class for a few minutes. (Parents come to classes on Friday. It's traditional. Threw me off the first year I taught here. I was teaching birth in child development - about which I had NO experience, as I was having a miscarriage at the time. I felt like such a fraud, "here is what the research says,..." (not that I would necessarily tell them my personal experience, but I felt like it was all, "here's what the books say...") All these parents showed up that day - THEY were the ones with experience. I was a little nerve-wracked at first, because I didn't even know they came to class, but they confirmed what I was teaching, that pitocin contractions are stronger and more intense than non-pit ones, etc. It was neat having all these mothers contribute their experiences - and comparing their births between siblings, "The one with pit was awful -I had to have an epi...")
post #19 of 25
Sounds fantastic!! I told DD1 about it today and said she should do it, and she said NO WAY! I thought it might give her a little empathy for her siblings... I think it's a great learning tool in so many ways - label reading, getting safe food while dining out, empathy, anaphylaxis, allergy vs. intolerance, etc. (the only thing is with a "pretend" allergy, they wouldn't know if they were cross contaminated by accident when dining out, which happens with my DS a lot)
post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 
One of the parents in my classes has a Ph.D. in Nutritional Metabolism! And his wife is also a nutritionist in functional medicine. I had only 20 minutes to talk with them, but I wanted them to spend the weekend at my house!!
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