Increasing food allergies for many years

Increasing food allergies for many years

Diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, itchy rash: these are all typical symptoms that can appear when people suffer from a food allergy. According to estimates, around six million citizens are affected in Germany alone. And there are more and more. The search for the triggers is usually not easy.

Allergies have been increasing for years
According to estimates by the German Allergy and Asthma Association (DAAB), around six million people in Germany suffer from food allergies. About six percent of all children and three percent of adults are said to be affected. Allergies have been increasing for years. Last summer, the DAAB announced that the numbers have even doubled in recent years. Stephan Meller, allergist and senior physician at the Düsseldorf University Clinic, said according to a message from the dpa news agency that there was not just one reason for the increase. Various factors such as our environment, eating and avoidance habits play a role.

Pseudo-allergies due to additives
The agency report reports of a woman who had thick, itchy spots all over her body when she went out to eat. Allergy tests had brought nothing. "And then at some point it started at home that she was chattering," said Sonja Lämmel from DAAB in Mönchengladbach. “Detective work was the order of the day.” After a lot of research into the riddle, the nutritionist finally found the solution: Since the woman looked after her mother-in-law and therefore had little time, many finished products and bag soups came on the table. The proof came from a targeted provocation in a specialist clinic: the woman developed a pseudo-allergic reaction to additives, preservatives and flavor enhancers. This also explained the mysterious, itchy hives after eating in restaurants. Lämmel explained that such stories of suffering are common. According to health experts, the suspicion of pseudo-allergies is difficult to check because there are no blood or skin tests that can be used to clearly confirm them. Consumer advocates have also been criticizing for a long time that the usual practice in the food industry when it comes to the indication of additives does not exactly make it easier for those affected, since many manufacturers advertise their products with information such as "Free from preservatives", although these are often only exchanged for other ingredients.

Allergy-triggering substances must be clearly recognizable
Since 2008, the DAAB has been commemorating this disease on June 21 with this food allergy, from which hundreds of thousands suffer and for which there is no cure. "The only effective thing is that the patient knows what he is allergic to and consistently avoids this food," says Lämmel. Most allergists think so, but a British study found a few months ago that this may not be true for everyone. The researchers found that peanut consumption can also protect against peanut allergy. But if you assume that you should avoid the food in question, you must be able to clearly recognize the allergenic substance on the packaging of the food and in the case of loose goods in the restaurant or bakery. However, this is not always the case. The declaration has been regulated more clearly since mid-December 2014. Since then, the main triggers for allergies and intolerances on the food label have been bold or underlined if they are included. These include cereals containing gluten, milk, eggs, fish, nuts, soy, celery or sulfites. However, there is still a problem with loose goods. For example, the butcher's sausage or baker's kernel rolls have been labeled since the end of 2014, but not every company is already implementing this new regulation. Customers often have to ask for it. "This is a disaster for allergy sufferers," said the managing director of the DAAB, Andrea Wallrafen.

Different allergies depending on age
Food can trigger numerous allergic reactions. This can lead to severe itching, reddening and hives on the skin, sneezing and runny nose, cough and shortness of breath, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Anaphylactic shock in the form of a life-threatening circulatory collapse is the most serious allergic reaction. People tend to have other food allergies depending on their age: cow's milk and chicken eggs are the main trigger in infants. Children add nuts, fish and wheat, and adolescents and adults react more often to raw vegetables and fruits, spices and nuts. In around 60 percent of cases, cross-reactions occur with a simultaneous pollen allergy.

Mysterious new form of a wheat allergy
As it says in the dpa report, a new form of a wheat allergy is particularly mysterious. This occurs primarily in combination with exertion. Ms. Lämmel explained that this occurred about three years ago and then became more common. Effort, alcohol or certain medicines can act as triggers. Lämmel observed that especially young people are affected. The allergist Meller encounters such cases about once a month: "Someone eats a bun and then does sports, which can then result in an extreme reaction." This phenomenon is called "WDEIA" (Wheat Dependent Exercise Induced Anaphylaxis): a nutritional-related one , allergic shock caused by exertion. In such cases, the doctor often has to convince his patients of the unusual allergy to wheat. "Nah, I tolerated it yesterday", Meller often has to listen to that. "It's a puzzle game." And not that rare. (ad)

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