In my first post I talked about Summer coming, perhaps I should have called it “Allergies Are Coming”. It is that time of year where much of the population start to suffer from various plant/weather related allergies, myself included. For the lucky ones out there who don’t know what hayfever can be like, be glad, very glad.
Spring, when this part of the world is starting to look new and fresh, daffodils nod gently in the breeze. Birds flying overhead, bright green grass pushing up into the sunlight. A glorious view that myself and countless others struggle to see it through a haze of watery eyes and sneezing. Red, itchy eyes and snuffling noses are our daily battle. A host of allergy pills that seem to have no effect and the hope that medical science has now invented something stronger since last summer.
From the moment I wake up until I head to bed my eyes itch. My throat is sore and I’m a tickle in my nose away from another sneeze. It’s really attractive, honestly. I’ve tried almost every type of allergy pill available. Most either send me to sleep, presumably so that I’m out cold and can’t feel the allergies, or, they just don’t work.
Allergies, Fuzzy and Cute:
One of the allergies that gives me the most anguish is to all things cute and furry. Kittens, puppies, bunnies, all of them off-limits to me. I can stare from afar, browse cute pictures all day long online but heaven forbid that I get near to one or even someone who has been near one. Kal loves cats, he’s had many of them as pets and would dearly love to have another one day. He befriends the local cat community where he goes, petting them and letting them love on him. However, the second he comes into the house he has to wash his hands, possibly even change clothes if they have been sitting on his lap.
Kal loves cats, he’s had many of them as pets and would dearly love to have another one day. He befriends the local cat community where he goes, petting them and letting them love on him. However, the second he comes into the house he has to wash his hands. Possibly even change clothes if they have been sitting on his lap.
It’s not even just limited to little bundles of fuzz, big animals too, horses, cows, pretty much anything with a fur coat and I’m sneezing like I’ve got a face full of pepper. Which ironically doesn’t make me sneeze. We had cows living in a field behind us in Wales, friendly and slightly dopey, but altogether rather placid and fun. If we could convince them to come over and say hi I couldn’t be near them for too long.
(Gross details to follow, look away now if you don’t want to read about bodily stuff and possible trigger warning)
I can say for certain that I’m allergic to Flaxseeds, sometimes called Linseed. I have reactions to numerous other food additives that I am whittling down so that I can actively avoid them. Wheatgrass and based on previous experience, Barley grass are two other grains that upset my digestive system. While other people are adding those three items to their diets to promote better health I’m trying to avoid them at all costs.
Mild anaphylaxis is what best describes the effect on my health. My lips bubble and swell, my throat itches, then my stomach, and not on my skin. Internally. If you’ve never experienced it, count yourself lucky. I then get nausea, acid reflux and depending on the amount I’ve eaten, I can vomit, and then either diarrhoea or constipation. None of which is fun and can leave me unable to eat solid food for a week or more. If I realise quickly enough I can take an allergy pill to try and stem off the worst of it but not before trying to make myself sick to remove the offending food from my stomach.
Sadly for me, flax is becoming more and more common in everyday foods. The oil from the seeds can be used for a wide variety of things. Emulsifiers in frosting, salad dressings, and a whole host of products. It’s now being added in a ground form to various bread and cakes. Flax contains Omega 3’s, healthy fats and gives a higher fibre content when added.
It makes any shopping trip a lot longer for me, I have to read every ingredient list, double check things that might contain flax oil emulsifiers and a dozen or so other names that it can go by. Thankfully technology makes my life a little easier, with my smartphone I can check most things almost immediately and make an informed decision.
I know that only having a couple of allergies is nothing compared to what some have to go through when eating or shopping. I’m very thankful for that much but the lack of uniformity when companies draw up ingredient lists is so frustrating. There are laws to follow, highlights for the 14 main allergens on any packaging. (Read more about that here on the UK government website) I just wish that it was a lot more simple.
E472(e) is a perfect example of what I’m referring to when I say more simple. I wanted to try some brown bread today. I dutifully read the ingredients list, no flax listed. Yay! However, I then read the dreaded word “emulsifier” followed by E472(e) and E471. E472(e) is a fatty acid derived from plant, synthetic and sometimes animal oils. Most companies will list if it has come from animals to inform for religious reasons or to make the food suitable for vegetarians and vegans. This poses a problem for me. If that plant oil is a blend of seed and vegetable oils like soya, rapeseed and flax then just one slice of bread can make me rather unwell.
My point in saying all of this? I’m frustrated. To find out if that oil contains flax I have to contact the manufacturer of the E472(e) not just the maker of the bread. And that information is next to impossible to find out or in the very least, a hell of a lot of effort to go to for a piece of bread.
Allergies, They Suck:
This is a topic that I could spend hours exploring and if you’ve made it to the end of this post then thank you. I will go back to this soon and break down a few common lists of ingredients. Maybe even try to find out what is in E472(e) from the manufacturer.
Over to you, do you suffer from any interesting allergies? Weird and wonderful foods that almost no one else seems to have problems eating? I’d love to know, I’m a bit weird like that.