Due to a miserable infection I have been unable to write for the past few weeks. I knew for a month that I was developing an infection but it was one of those cat and mouse type of infections that left me miserable one day, and the next the symptoms seemed to subside. My nasal cavities felt miserable, but the pressure was too mild for me to go to the doctor and confidently declare that I was having another sinus infection.
Then a couple of Sunday mornings ago, I woke up with a full fledge infection. I was dizzy, feverishly achy, had a miserable head ache, and my sinuses throbbed like base drums. At that point I was more than confident that I had an infection and was eager to go to the urgent care and bring an end to my misery.
Because of my insurance, I had to go to a different urgent care than I normally went to. It was my first time there and my eyes studied the place trying to determine what to expect. The surroundings were plain but neat. Nothing alarming nor celebratory stuck out.
When my name was called I rose and dutifully followed the young tech back to the room where he proceeded to catalog my symptoms, medical conditions, and allergies. I concluded my list of antibiotics by stating, food dyes, shell fish, and pork.
Before I could finish the tech loudly declared, “I do not need your list of food allergies. I am not going to give you pork!” Under other circumstances I might of shyly blushed and tearfully settled myself back in my seat, to fearful to contradict what I knew to be an obvious lack of knowledge. Maybe it was the pain or the fear of another allergic reaction but I managed to boldly declare, “Yes you do. Pork is in many gel capsules, and I am allergic to food dyes.” And then settled uneasily back into my seat, half expecting the battle to receive an allergy free antibiotic that took the next two days and only ended by a trip to my regular doctor.
Unfortunately many people, including some in the medical field, do not realize that food allergies are not limited to food, but can have a far wider impact upon the allergy suffer than the daily struggle to ensure a reaction free meal. For example someone who is allergic to corn has to be cautious with licking stamps because some stamps use corn to create the adhesive.
What many do not realize, even within the medical community, is that medicine is a potential source of hidden and unlisted food allergens such as dyes, corn, pork, wheat, soy, and shellfish. Here are a few examples of why knowing a person’s food allergies can be vital in helping to choose a medicine.
Need an X-ray or cat scan with contrast, if you are allergic to food dyes or shell fish that X-ray can quickly turn into a life and death battle.
Corn and Wheat: While many think it is just a fashion statement or way of increasing the cost, there is a reason why some vitamins state gluten and corn free. Because these ingredients can be hidden in things like the talcum powder that helps bind meds together.
Soy: Like ink on paper, soy can be used in the ink to help identify meds.
Dyes: Dyes such as Red 40 and yellow 6 are common in medicines. They are used by pharmaceuticals to help identify the type and dose of many meds such as in thyroid medicine.
Pork: The use of gelatin is no longer limited to Jell-O but is also a common component of most gel capsules, pork allergies can create serious issues in finding a safe medication for an allergic individual. Even allergy medications can contain this potential allergen as many allergy pills come in gel capsules. Also while most thyroid patients are proscribed synthetic thyroid, many natural thyroid hormones are composed using hormones from dead pigs and cows. So if you are allergic to either one you can have a serious reaction.
Beef: Thanks to a variety of ticks, an increasing number of people are becoming sensitive to red meats such as beef. Like pork, beef is used in the creation of some natural hormones like thyroid and insulin. Also some gel capsules use beef in place of pork.
Eggs: This may seem like a strange allergy when talking about medicine, but if you are thinking about getting a vaccination mentioning an allergy to eggs is vital. Eggs are used in many vaccines and therefore have the potential to cause an allergic reaction.
Fake sugars: Fake sugars may be all the rage, but for some it can cause serious reactions. This product can be found in cough syrups and drops, hidden in vitamins, and used in syrups to improve taste.
So yes, as strange as it may have been to the tech who felt that he did not need to hear any of my food allergies, knowing a patients food allergies can be vital for the medical personal to know in order to prevent a serious and even life threatening allergy attack. And this is only an informal list that in no way represents all potential uses for these allergens or all food allergens that can show up in medicine. If you have food allergies keep this thought and mind the next time your doctor or pharmacist ask for your list of allergies. Because as you can see, not all food allergies are limited to the table, but play a role in many of the medicines, vaccines, and contrast that doctors and patients rely on.