Food allergies and holiday party frustration - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Food allergies and holiday party frustration

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Food allergies are sending more people to the emergency room.  According to the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, we're talking 200,000 people a year, which is up from a reported 30,000 a year in the 1990s.

One doctor says, cases spike during the holiday season.

"Several a week. I would say one every two or three shifts," ER Doctor Martha Grimm.

You might be surprised at what's sending people to the emergency room around the holiday season.

"This time of year, it's probably the baked goods, and all the parties. You don't know what exactly what you're eating at the parties," Dr. Grimm said.

Dr. Grimm works in the emergency room at Texas health in Plano. Several times a week, she treats food allergy patients wheeled into her emergency room.

"The more superficial ones are the hives, the itching and then once they start getting short of breathe, strider when they breathe, then of course they can lose their blood pressure and start vomiting and get even more sick," Dr. Grimm said.

Shelly Garrison knows the feeling.  She's allergic to peanuts, and ended up in the ER, after eating food at a holiday party.

"The last reaction I had it was during the holidays. Someone had a big, what do they call it?  Texas trash, with the Chex mix. And they had removed the peanuts, but it had been cooked with peanuts," Garrison said.

"So lets say Grandma says there's no nuts in there but she made brownies with nuts the same day, in the same area, it can cross over," Dr. Grimm said.

Doctors say certain foods served around the holidays, like turkeys fried in peanut oil or baked goods.  They can trigger allergic reactions.

Since homemade foods don't come with warning labels, allergy sufferers should be prepared.

If you're having an allergic reaction, doctors say you can take an anti-histamine that's found in Benadryl or even some heartburn medication. But many say you should also carry around an EpiPen."

"They should always carry at least one or two Epi pens with them. Always have one at home that never leaves the spot. Always have one if you're in school that's at the school," Dr. Grimm said.

Doctor Grimm says she's noticed more people with food allergies visiting the ER. What we don't know is what's causing the increase in food allergies.

"But why, we don't know. Is it environmental, is it more genetic, we don't really know," Dr. Grimm said.

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