To keep this brief, I have a relative who, for a very long time, has had a severe allergy to shellfish. Among that she's also allergic to cats, trees, grass, pollen - you name an airborne allergy, she has it. Anyway, lately I have noticed she seems to be finding MORE allergies. I realize many allergies don't surface for years, but it's almost ridiculous that now she is allergic to latex, peanuts, and a few others, all of which she wasn't allergic to 6 months ago. I believe she has been diagnosed with all of these by the allergist, but I am beginning to wonder whether or not her allergies are being onset psychologically. Now don't let this sound as if I'm taking down the seriousness of food allergies, but it seems like every time she's not feeling well, I hear the words "Oh, I think I'm allergic to (insert allergin here)" and an appointment with the allergist is made. I have loosely heard of people mentally making themselves physically ill, and I was wondering if such a thing is possible with a food allergy (or any allergy I guess). Any light shed on this topic would be much appreciated.
It's possible she is scared about her allergies and panics when she feels any symptoms, which may or may not be related to what she perceives is the cause. I can't answer your question about that. It's also possible she really is having real reactions to the items which didn't bother her earlier. I have a lot of airborne allergies and thought I was crazy when all of a sudden in my 20s I started feeling symptoms (itchy mouth) when I ate fresh tree fruits. I thought it was all in my head- suddenly cherries, then peaches, then pears, then apples... Finally I consulted a doctor (feeling foolish) and it turns out I was reacting to them- my birch pollen allergy had over time caused an oral allergy syndrome which makes me react to something in the fruit! And later, after working in a new office for 6-8 months, I started having more problems with nuts... I thought again that I was over reacting. Well, it got worse & then after a few years I left that office and over time many of the problems disappered (but not all, I was diagnosed as allergic to Macadamia nuts which I'd never had a problem with for almost 30 years). I found out later that several people in the building had problems with "sick building syndrome" (from mold in the ducts) while I had been there, and that it was possible my immune system was overreacting because of that. I guess my point is, don't get too irritated with her about it because it may indeed be true that her immune system is overloaded for some reason and she is indeed reacting to these things. Especially if her allergist is confirming them.
Has your relative ever had anaphalaxis? If so, then she probably is scared of the same thing happening. I know from experience. I went into shock from food allergies and it was the closest I have come to dying and I will tell you it is frightening! Has she had all allergy tests run, including food allergies? If she is like me, she has to watch for everything that could have some of the foods in the ingredients. They are not always easy to find as they can be listed as something else. I am allergic to cinnamon (in so many things!), cream cheese (no other dairy) and grapes (almost all juices, many vinegars, salad dressings, just to name a few!). Any of those can be fatal. I have to carry an Eppipen(spelling?)& benadryl. I used to eat these things all the time, until my almost fatal reaction. Funny how some allergies don't show up for years. I was 35. Those are just my food allergies. I am also allergic to other really weird things (cockroaches for example). There are so many things that we can be allergic to. The only way to know for sure is to run all allergy tests. Please be patient with your relative as her fears are real. She just needs to learn what to look for and be prepared for a reaction. I am fine with all of my strange allergies, but it took a while.
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