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….[typography font="Lobster" size="24" size_format="px"]NOT[/typography] lactose allergy.  One of my personal challenges, that I am sure you face too, is helping people to understand the differences between a few simple words that can mean the difference between life in death for some. Know your definitions and diagnosis! Miley Cyrus tweeted in response anorexic rumors that a gluten and lactose allergy were the reasons for her weight loss.

Miley Cyrus tweeted in response anorexic rumors that a gluten and lactose allergy were the reasons for her weight loss.   In case you were wondering, here are the links to articles about Miley Cyrus and why she said she has a gluten and lactose allergy…

Miley Cyrus

Anaphylaxis

Truly, her mistake of referring to her intolerance as an allergy could have been just that.  Just an error of the fingertips.  OR she may be confusing a milk allergy with lactose intolerance.   Miley Cyrus also encouraged folks to try a gluten-free diet.  Clearly, this is a bad idea as NO ONE SHOULD CHANGE their diet without a discussion with their physician.  When a major food group is removed from a diet, needed nutrients are removed too!!!  She is going to take some heat on this one.

So, why do I think misunderstandings could be harmful?  If someone believes my son will just get a really bad stomach ache and diarrhea from dairy instead of anaphylactic shock, he is in real danger.  If the person understands that any cross contact with dairy could be fatal instead of thinking he’ll just feel crappy, the world is a good place again.  The truth of the matter is that my son’s health often lies in the hands of those around him.  People in his world need to know that plucking off a piece of cheese from a salad may work for a lactose intolerant person, but a person with a true food allergy to dairy could end up in the hospital fighting for their life.

Do you know the difference between these words?

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  • Allergy
  • Food Allergy
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Lactose Intolerance
  • Gluten Intolerance
  • Celiac Disease

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Here are the Definitions:

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  • Miley Cyrus-Allergies are abnormal immune system reactions to things that are typically harmless to most people. When you’re allergic to something, your immune system mistakenly believes that this substance is harmful to your body. (Substances that cause allergic reactions, such as certain foods, dust, plant pollen, or medicines, are known as allergens.)
  • Miley Cyrus-Food allergies happen when someone’s immune system mistakenly believes that something the person ate is harmful to the body. In an attempt to “protect” the body, the immune system produces IgE antibodies to that food. IgE antibodies then trigger mast cells (which are allergy cells in the body) to release chemicals into the bloodstream.  (please note: Wheat is considered one of the eight major allergens).
  • Miley Cyrus-is a life-threatening allergic response to an allergen exposure. There are varying triggers of anaphylaxis, including allergy to foods, medications, insect stings and latex.  In general, treatment of anaphylaxis includes the immediate use of injectable epinephrine, an antihistamine and observation in the emergency room or by a highly trained physician. Delay in the administration of these medications may result in failure to respond to treatment.
  • Anaphylaxis-Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest a sugar called lactose that is found in milk and dairy products.
  • Lactose Intolerance-- can really be divided into three separate categories: Celiac Disease, Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity and Wheat Allergy Celiac Disease is an increased immune responsiveness to gluten resulting in autoimmune intestinal damage frequently with systemic manifestations (special note: Wheat Allergy Celiac is basically a combination of a traditional wheat allergy and Celiac).
  • Miley Cyrus-People who have celiac (pronounced: see-lee-ak) disease have a disorder that makes their bodies react to gluten. When they eat gluten, an immune system reaction to the protein gradually damages the villi in the small intestine. When the villi are damaged, the body is unable to absorb the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients it needs to stay healthy.

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In all fairness to Miley Cyrus , adjusting to a new dietary restrictions can be a challenge, so loosing weight is not so uncommon in this arena.  For an interesting explanation, reading this article about  Miley CyrusI enjoyed reading how demographics play into perspective too).

Bottom line: understanding and use definitions in our food allergy, intolerant and Celiac world do make a difference and knowing the difference can be the DIFFERENCE between an upset stomach to an ambulance ride.

Happy Wednesday!