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Rare Allergies: ‘Mustard’…yes, really!

On occasion, I have been accused of ‘helicopter parenting’ and even ‘apache’ helicopter parenting by my husband 🙂 However, I met my match a few years back in a Gymboree class where doting moms across the United States try to lay the foundation for ‘awesome’ adults in clueless toddlers! She had a little one who was allergic to peanuts – the lengths she would go to, to ensure that a food item was safe was scary for someone like me who had a child with far more food allergies. Yes – it did make me wonder if I was being a tad careless. However, the difference was probably – she let her anxiety show! That in my book, as a mom to a child with food allergies is a definite no-no. We have to be careful at all times, but cannot let that paralyze our lives by living in constant fear! But, I digress…one day, she told us that her child was severely allergic to ‘mustard’ – yes that very same condiment that is used across the world in various forms – in sandwiches, curries, soups and so much more. It is a hidden element in many dishes and may not even be listed on the ingredient chart because it is one of the many spices and condiments used in minute quantities in dishes. Initially, even someone as aware as me did not believe her and put it down to her being over-cautious. Then, when she told me that her son broke into hives within seconds of a small splatter on his arm – I knew it was very serious and she was fully justified in her caution. Years later I came across Kytriya through my blog who talked about the very same allergy.

Kytriya, the force behind ‘Allergic Vegetarian’, has written a very informative article on rare food allergies. Thank you so much Kytriya for sharing your story with us because even people with allergies dont quite understand how some allergies may be very rare but even more dangerous because they are not taken as seriously. Apart from this article, her website is replete with useful information on being a vegetarian with food allergies. The number of recipes is just mind-boggling. Here is a reproduction of her article on rare food allergies:

“So your Doctor tells you that you can’t be allergic to Mustard because the Allergy is too rare! And, others tell you that you are more likely to be struck by lightning. Did you know that the truth is you can be allergic to anything? Did you know that they normally only test for the most common allergies? Did you know that many people with Rare Food Allergies only received that diagnosis after doing the Elimination Diet and Food Journal? Did you know that some Doctors still do not take Rare Food Allergies seriously?

The problem your doctor is having is the same problem society is having. They are both so focused on the stats that they have lost sight of the possible truth. The other problem is that lightening striking you in your lifetime is 1 in 6,250 according to NOAA, the national weather service. This far more rare then the
probability of you having a rare food allergy. How so? Let’s do the math. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s population estimate for Feb 1, 2011 coupled with the Medical Science community tells us about percentages of
people with food allergies, we get this:

The Subject: The Stats:
U.S. Citizens                                                                  311,991,833
% with food allergies                                                 4%
Sub-total                                                                         12,479,673
Results: 1 in 25 US Citizens have a Food Allergy


% of those with allergies who have the most common ones 90%
Sub-total: # with common allergies             11,231,706
Sub-total: # with rare allergies                         1,247,967
Results: 1 in 250 US Citizens have a Rare Food Allergy

What this chart is telling us is:
1) The odds are low that your Doctor is going to be looking at someone with a rare food allergy. Only 1 in 250 have a rare food allergy, but 1 in 25 have a common food allergy. This means that for every class in school meeting at the same time, 1 person is allergic to a common food – one of the top 10 foods. Sunflower and Sesame Seeds tie for number 9, so I’m calling it top 10 for now.

2) Truth is, when we look at 2 identical products to buy, we will choose the one labeled $2.99 over $3 every time because $2.99 appears to be a lot lower! Unfortunately, that’s how we tend to look at 4%. 4% just isn’t a very high number when we compare it to 96% of the population that doesn’t have
any food allergies at all. No, they may not have a food allergy, but still the fact remains that at least 1 in 250 people are having allergic reactions to rare foods. The other fact remains that you can still die from Anaphylactic shock. Whether that food you react is a “common” allergy is a moot point.

3) It is not practical to test for every single food, spice, drink, additive,  preservative, and so on, thats out there. The cost is just too prohibitive when we consider how many we would have to test for when  only 1 in 250 people even have a rare allergy. This is where the Elimination Diet comes in. This is also
where you advocating for you comes in. Thats because after you have successfully did the Elimination diet and found the foods you react to, you still have to convince your Doctor that a Allergy Test for those specific items is warranted. Furthermore, you may not react to the RAST or Skin Test even though you know that when you eat the food, you are definitely reacting. Yes it is possible to not react to the test even though you just got out of the hospital because the only thing you ate that day was the offending food and you did
go into shock.

4) What this chart also tells us how many people are affected each day by ignorant laws passed congress. Did you know that not every item in that food you buy is on the label? Take Veggie Broth for example, specifically the kind found in canned Tuna.

FDA: CFR Code of Regulations Title 21
concerns what is legal for canned Tuna. It was revised as of April 1, 2010. In short, Soy Broth must be listed if used, but that broth can also contain the following 13 items…

Beans, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Garlic, Onions, Parsley, Peas, Potatoes, Green Bell Peppers, Red Bell Peppers, Spinach and Tomatoes!

This means that those with Nightshade Allergies are out of luck. Fortunately for those with Legume allergies, soy is considered a legume and thus they are forewarned. I, on the other hand, react to 6 on that list, but not all of them am I anaphylactic too, thankfully!  Personally, I believe that every item for human use if ingested or used topically, should have on its label every single ingredient.

I’m allergic to the more rarer foods: Radishes, Horse Radish, Mustard, Cinnamon – just to name a few.  But, what is more important are the signs to look out for, as not everyone gets Hives. Faintenss, unconsciousness, swelling, food getting caught in the throat, asthma, vomiting or nausea, cramping, stomach pains, diarrhea, burning in the mouth, nose or throat, tingling sensation in the lips or mouth, extremely low blood pressure, itching sensations… are all possible signs of a true allergy.

When you do get tested, be sure you eat Wheat that week, and get tested for Celiac Disease as well. 1 in 30 people are estimated to have a Gluten Intolerance. This intolerance when undiagnosed can cause many health issues due to anemia from the gluten attacking the intestines, and creating holes in them.

Please allow me to put in a plug for EGID….
If you find food, pills, Vitamin tablets all seems to get stuck in your throat and acid-reducer meds don’t help you stop food from coming up, then do get tested for EGID. EGID is Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorders, and causes Eosinophils to develop. However, EGID is still being studied and understood, so I recommend going to  APFED Org for more information.  You also may not react to histmamines when tested for food allergies. If you don’t react, ask the doctor to check your blood for an over abundance of white blood cells, specifically Eosinophils. This is a rare disorder, but for me, this was one of the signs. The other sign is reacting to too many foods, but not necessarily, anaphylactically.

With 1 in 250 people having a rare food allergy, you can be allergic to anything. Incidentally, there are approximately 6,897,688,139 people in the world. Of these, 27,590,752 have a rare food allergy.  That is still a lot of people with
Food Allergies that are said to be so rare, that they might not exist. The only one who is going to give you the care you deserve is you! If you don’t like the results of what one Doctor says, get another one! Only you can be your best Advocate.

Copyright by Kytriya, February 1st, 2011″

4 thoughts on “Rare Allergies: ‘Mustard’…yes, really!”

  1. Very interesting article. I’m in my mid 30s & have allergy to mustard (and it’s not just the condiment- the entire plant). It’s no joke how many foods have hidden mustard- salads, bbq chips, the list could go on. Though thankfully, none of my own children have inherited MY allergies. But cannot really blame any mother for letting her anxiety show, I don’t have any idea why you consider that a parenting “no-no”. There is a huge difference in someone being intolerant of something & actually being allergic- which can be life threatening.

  2. I am finding this late, but my daughter (4yrs) has an allergy to mustard. I think the Pediatric Allergist didn’t believe it at first, but once she got old enough for a test panel she popped a positive! He told me that he didn’t even have the test until after our first visit with him, then he special ordered it.

    Just like the prior poster, I have found it inside BBQ sauces, salad dressings, and so on. The worst part — we were on vacation a month ago and stopped at a McDonald’s just before heading home, for a quick bite. My daughter asked for a burger happy meal (she almost always orders chicken) and my husband ordered 2 cheeseburgers as well. My husband was so hungry that he opened his burger and took a bite just as I finished setting up our daughter. He throws his burger down and rips the smaller burger from our daughters hand saying “don’t eat that!” —- Turns out that all of you guys outside of NY put MUSTARD on burgers (btw, ewwww). We did not know this. There isn’t a place in NY that does this. Imagine if our daughter ate first! OMG.

  3. My daughter who is 1 1/2 just was diagnosed with a mustard allergy. Our lives have changed! She is also allergic to all tree nuts, peanuts and I think most plants in the mustard family. I am still learning to live with food allergies. Have either of you found a ketchup or mayo that does not contain mustard?

  4. I am 41 year old male and have had a known allergy to mustard (the whole plant) since I was tested at 12 years of age. It is a sneaky allergy and almost have to make an ass of myself in restaurants when inquiring about foods that are prepared with mustard. Funny thing is, I didn’t like it until I knew I was allergic to it.

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