Students deal with allergies


Studies show food allergies to be on the rise across the nation but with no clear reason as to why.

Hypotheses include society being “too clean,” not being introduced to food until late into life and a heightened awareness of these allergies with people all over the nation.

  The Center of Disease and Control states that between 1997 and 2011 food allergies were 50 percent more prevalent in those under the age of 18.  Students at Granite Bay High School are among the many affected.

Junior Macalya Thomas is  allergic to dairy, eggs, nuts, peaches and shellfish.  Thomas will break out into a reaction if she comes into contact with any of these foods.

“I have to be really careful about opening doors and keeping my hands clean all the time,” Thomas said. “I have to read the ingredients if I eat anything that’s processed (and) if I go to a restaurant I have to talk to the chef about using clean equipment.”

Thomas said if she comes into contact with peanut butter, among other foods, she can go into anaphylactic shock

Similar to Thomas, junior Erica Lucia has had a fatal peanut allergy since childhood.   She is also allergic to all other types of nuts, though those allergies are not as severe.  She said the reactions that she may have to those types of nuts ranges from a rash to going into anaphylactic shock.

“Being exposed to particles in the air, for me, isn’t as much of a trigger (but) I’m very sensitive to the smell.”

Nuts that are in any lotions or soaps can trigger a reaction for Lucia.  Lucia said she is constantly reading the ingredients of all sorts of items.

“I have lived this way my entire life,” Lucia said. “I don’t know anything different than reading every ingredient label.  Even the stuff I eat a lot and regularly, I still read the ingredients. There (are) so many unknowns and that is the most difficult part.”

Lucia and Thomas have lived avoiding these foods their whole lives while many other students are just beginning to develop signs of food allergies.

Dr. Rani Vatti, an allergist at Kaiser Permanente, said she’s noticed the increase in food allergies over the last 10 years.

“Gluten intolerance is (apparent) more now than before. Peanut allergies are more prominent in the US than in other country even though they are eaten in other countries,” Vatti said.

She said many more people in the United States have these amounts of allergies possibly due to the processing that our foods undergo or perhaps due to some effects that genetically modified foods have.

Over the last few years sophomores Madeline Pautsch and Genna Kozlowski  have noticed signs of their bodies becoming intolerant to lactose, which seems more and more common with Granite Bay High School students.

Both Pautsch and Kozlowski can no longer digest the foods that they enjoyed eating before, like ice-cream and pizza, without their stomachs acting out.

“I’m lactose-intolerant and I’m allergic to peanuts.  Just over the last couple years I’ve developed these allergies,” Pautsch said.

Kozlowski and Pautsch said it’s difficult to avoid certain foods at times because a lot of them contain dairy.

“I try my best to avoid them, though, because I know I’ll have to suffer the consequences the next day,” Kozlowski said.

Many students who are developing allergies find that they purposefully have to look for substitute foods to ensure that they get enough of their nutrients, such as protein and calcium.

“I just realized that I wasn’t having enough calcium because I don’t have milk and (dairy products) anymore,” Kozlowski said.  “But normally I drink a lot of almond milk which is good.”

Though many are developing new allergies, Vatti said many of the allergies we think we have actually come back negative when tested.  Pediatrician Shiny Mandla said she thinks the public is more aware of symptoms of allergies than before, so they are brought up more frequently now.

“10% of people think they are allergic to something (but) when you do the calculation only about 1% of people actually are allergic to what they suspected,” Vatti said.  “The good news is that about 70% of (children) outgrow their allergies as their immune systems mature.”