Tag Archives: allergies

Episode Two of new Netflix docu-series, Rotten, investigates food allergies

The rising rate of food allergies takes center stage in the episode “The Peanut Problem,” in the new Netflix six-part documentary series, Rotten, which critically examines the food industry. Whether or not you have food allergies or know someone with food allergies, overall the series is a must-see for anyone who cares about the food on your plate or in your kids’ lunch.

An underlying theme emphasized in episode two, “The Peanut Problem,” is frankly, we all have a “duty to care.” Renowned chefs Ming Tsai, owner of Blue Dragon (Boston, Mass.), and  Sam Mason, (Brooklyn, NY) share behind-the-scenes perspectives on the restaurant industry challenges and how they accommodate diners with food allergies. A global issue, the episode gives an example of legal consequences for a UK restaurant owner who failed to disclose ingredient changes.  

The responsibility to care is also explored at the root of the problem – peanuts. Peanuts are considered life-threatening kryptonite to parents like me and allergic kids alike who must manage to avoid peanuts; whether it is ingestion, touch or even airborne. In watching this, you are given a different lens about what the industry and peanut farmers are doing about it.

Overall, there has been exponential growth in the prevalence of food allergies among children, and even adult onset, in the last 20 years. And for reasons still unknown. The segment explores potential answers to the underlying causes of food allergies and the research actively underway to prevent and treat food allergies. Most importantly, it stresses ways to recognize symptoms of a severe reaction, known as anaphylaxis, and how to quickly treat a reaction with epinephrine, through the use of an epi-pen.

Ruchi Gupta, MD, pediatrician and researcher, is among the featured medical experts who give insights into the medical condition, research and her firsthand experience. As she reflects on being a food allergy mom herself she states, “Until you experience it, you really don’t understand it.”  

And this is so true. None of us know what anything is like until we experience it in life. This documentary gives a snapshot to help others understand and hopefully gain a “duty to care.”

If you live in the Chicago area, a screening event that features Dr. Gupta and supporting event sponsors, will take place at Chicago’s Davis Theater on Thurs., Jan. 11, at 6:30 p.m. Click here to register. Check out episode two and the series on Netflix.  


Spring allergies drop a lesson of patience

Spring has sprung with beauty, but the allergy meds for my five year old are in full bloom unlike any other season since she was first diagnosed with multiple allergies and asthma.  After reading to my daughter’s class, The Princess and the Peanut Allergy, my daughter came up to me with swollen, bumpy eyelids and said she wanted to go home.   I was relieved to hear many kindergartners joyfully share knowledge about food allergies. I was even amazed at how one could describe his own nut allergies and properly pronounce a big juicy word like macadamia. Allergies have truly expanded our vocabulary at a young age.


One of many thank you notes from the class during Reader Day
But I knew my reminder lesson for the day would be more about my daughter’s spring allergies and not about her food allergies. Swollen, itchy eyelids are just the prelude response to pollen, which is the known culprit to trigger asthma attacks during this time of year. So, we made a quick visit to the school nurse for temporary eye wash relief and headed to the pediatrician.
The doctor listened to her lungs and heard no sounds of wheezing. Then she looked at the bumps around her puffy eyes and the eczema around her neck that suddenly reappeared after being dormant for months.   This is when she pulled out the prescription pad, tapped the screen of the electronic medical record and started typing away. Now, we’ve been through the spring song and dance of inhalers, hydrocortisone creams and antihistamines for two years. But, somehow we never needed the tune of allergy eye drops until this day.
Our doctor recommended an over-the-counter eye drop like, Zaditor, and prescribed another type of ophthalmic solution made by Alcon. Relieved to provide my daughter with some relief before the weekend filled with activities, I was ready to sprinkle a few drops of comfort only to my own discomfort and a true test of patience. 
Have you ever tried to give eye drops to a five year old? The maneuvers and tactics are unlike any other.
“Look this way. Tilt your head. Oops, open your eye. Let’s lay down. Okay, just imagine rain drops falling in your eyes. It’s like splashing in a pool.  Oh, I forgot you always wear goggles in the pool.” After many failed blinking attempts, we finally succeeded to get a drop in each eye. 
Within minutes she was smiling again. We made the best of her early dismissal day and went out for a late lunch. A day well spent in more ways than one after leaving the pharmacy. Four days later, her eyes are clear just in time for School Picture Day today. I’m relieved we’ve steered clear of any asthma issues thanks to understanding the trigger of pollen, but I’m still on high alert.
Today is World Asthma Day and this experience is a great reminder that pollen is one of many triggers for asthma attacks. You can control asthma and thrive through all seasons. Spring allergies are only for a season, but the will of a mama’s patience is a lifetime.

-Tia Howard

Follow me @theallergymama