When people think of deadly food allergic reactions, nuts often spring to mind as the most obvious culprit. However, milk is quickly becoming an equally deadly food allergy threat.
At the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) conference in Philadelphia, Dr. Philippe Eigenmann of Geneva, Switzerland presented a very interesting overview of anaphylaxis, the severe and life threatening allergic reaction that can include respiratory and cardiovascular distress, extreme gastrointestinal cramping and diarrhea. About 30 out of every 100,000 people go to the hospital for anaphylaxis and hospital visits are on the rise. Still, Eigenmann believes that many cases are underreported and the numbers, therefore, may be higher.
Severe milk allergy on the rise
A good number of studies show that ingesting peanuts and tree nuts caused higher probabilities of allergic reactions. But, a study conducted in the United Kingdom in the 1990s by Dr. Richard Pumphrey showed that severe milk allergy was the third leading anaphylaxis trigger after peanuts and tree-nuts.
Even more troubling is the fact that allergic reactions to milk typically happen within safe zones such as the home or at the office. In contrast, adverse reactions to peanuts happen most frequently in places like restaurants, away from safe zones like the home.
When asked, Dr. Eigenmann said he did not know why severe milk allergies were on the rise in the United Kingdom, as shown in Pumphrey's study. He did, however, point out that the UK study was 10 years old and that when new findings are published this year or next about the U.S. and Canada, the data would show similar numbers here as well.
Whether your food allergy is to peanuts, tree nuts, milk or another allergen, the take away message was clear: Peanuts and tree nuts are not the only foods that can cause allergic fatalities.
Talk with your health care provider and if you notice new food allergic triggers, follow up with your allergist.