Seasonal allergies may seem horrific when they are happening, but there are much worse things than hay fever. Some allergies can cause a serious condition called anaphylaxis, which if not treated quickly, can result in death. Some of the deadliest allergies involve something each of us is exposed to every day: the very food we put into our bodies.
Peanuts and Tree Nuts
A peanut allergy is the most common cause of death by allergic reaction to food, with the allergic response occurring within minutes of ingesting the nuts. Depending on the severity of the allergy, the symptoms can range from a runny nose and skin rash to life-threatening anaphylaxis. During anaphylaxis, the airways are constricted and the throat swells, making breathing difficult. Blood pressure drops suddenly, causing a rapid pulse, dizziness, lightheadedness or loss of consciousness.
Another allergy that can cause anaphylaxis is bee sting venom allergy. While approximately 10 percent of people have abnormally strong reactions to bee stings, only 3 percent go into anaphylactic shock. The risk of anaphylaxis increases with each bee sting, so if you have a strong reaction to one bee sting, the next one could kill you.
Shellfish allergies are usually developed after age 6 and last your entire life. Almost seven million people, or 2.3 percent of the population in the U.S., are allergic to shellfish. These include shrimp, lobster, crab, oysters, and scallops. It also includes octopus and squid, whose shells are internal, but are still members of the shellfish family. Shellfish allergies can also cause anaphylactic reactions.
Latex allergies are rare in the general population, but as many as 17 percent of health care workers suffer from this allergy. Your risk of developing latex allergy is increased if you have other allergies. Approximately 220 people in the U.S. experience anaphylaxis from latex allergies every year.
Many people begin their morning with a healthy portion of eggs, but for more than half a million Americans, that meal could be a death sentence. Egg allergy is actually an allergic reaction to the protein in the whites and yolks of the egg. Since egg protein is used in some vaccines, people with egg allergies cannot receive those vaccinations. While 2 percent of children have egg allergies, most of them outgrow it by age 16.
Allergic reactions can be as simple as a stuffy nose or rash, or as deadly as anaphylactic shock. If you suspect you have a serious allergy, contact a trusted allergy doctor like Asthma and Allergy Clinic for testing and treatment.