Moms First: Food allergies

WSBT 22 photo

Every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room.

According to research, the number of Americans who have a food allergy is growing.

According to a study released in 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control, food allergies among children increased approximately 50 percent between 1997 and 2011.

And now, 15 million Americans have food allergies.

Researchers are trying to figure out what's causing this epidemic, and doctors say everyone should know what to look for when it comes to food allergies

Maggie Ayters says those caramel apples, and all things fall are frightening for her because of her severe food allergies.

"That's when I noticed I was struggling to breathe, so I went to the hospital. They said don't eat apples anymore, and then I started getting allergy injections,” Ayters said.

Dr. James Harris says the condition is called oral allergy syndrome.

“It's something that were seeing more and more of right now. What happens is people that have pollen allergies to trees, grass and ragweed also have trouble eating certain foods. It causes reactions mostly in the mouth, itching and swelling around the mouth,” Harris said.

Ayters said now her food allergies are so bad that if she touches something that someone else has touched after eating an apple she will have a reaction.

"It has progressed from apples to bananas,” she said. “I can't do peaches, plums -- I can't peel a potato. Even touching a potato -- my fingers will swell up, and my fingers will get hives."

Harris said in some cases, oral allergy syndrome can be life threatening.

"A small percentage of those people have even more severe reactions,” Harris said. “They get nausea, vomiting, even total body reactions, which we call anaphylactic shock."

For Ayters, she has her epi-pen ready just in case of another emergency.

“This time of year is the worst,” Ayters said.

Doctors say parents need to be aware if their kids are having an itchy mouth or itchy ears to not necessarily write it off as your son or daughter just doesn't want to eat his vegetables or fruit.

There could be something very real behind that, and it could be a food allergy.

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