The other day I read about a kid from New York who died from a peanut allergy. He was eating a granola bar which contained peanuts or traces of peanuts and he immediately went into anaphylactic shock. His mother got him to the hospital pretty quickly, but it was too late. He lapsed into a coma and died a few weeks later.
Anaphylaxis is an exaggerated response from the body’s immune system to something simple and basic, like a bee sting or a type of food. It produces an excess of antibodies that in turn release a lot of histamine, which causes wild reactions in the body like breathing issues, pain, and severe cramping.
The best chance these people have of surviving this life-threatening reaction is to get a shot of epinephrine. It’s a type of adrenaline and it’s usually administered by sticking a syringe or “pen” into a person’s thigh. It usually reverses or lessens the reaction until you can find medical treatment.
But why is this happening so much? Why am I always reading about kids dying from food allergies? When I was growing up, I don’t remember any of my friends having food allergies.
The CDC says the number of kids with food allergies has tripled in the past 25 years. How can that be?
Yep. Antibiotics. The miracle medications that are now handed out like candy.
Animals are given antibiotics to keep them healthy- so we get it second-hand through things like milk and steak. Fish are given antibiotics to keep them healthier, and we end up ingesting that too. It’s probably in a lot of other foods that we don’t even know about yet.
And what about our doctors? When a kid gets the sniffles, the first things a doctor suggests is a course of antibiotics, “just to be on the safe side”.
Don’t doctors realize they’re wrecking the immune systems of today’s kids? Little kids are supposed to play in the dirt and the mud; they’re supposed to breathe on each other and get each other sick; they’re supposed to lick the babysitter. And this is all GOOD! It builds up their immune systems.
The human immune system is totally amazing. You get sick, your body reacts by creating antibodies to fight off the offender, and then actually remembers the intruder in case it comes back. It’s a great system. So why do we screw with it?
For God’s sake, even soap has antibacterial properties now.
But using antibiotics comes with a price. It wipes out a lot of the healthy bacteria that lives in the body, especially in the gut. This is one of the reasons that antibiotics like Penicillin or Amoxicillin give people stomach aches- they’re wiping out the good bacteria.
So you have to wonder, is our antibiotic-crazy society the reason that more kids are developing food allergies? Is the overuse of antibiotics killing off beneficial bacteria in the digestive system and in turn making kids allergic to such basic things as peanuts and dairy?
The medical evidence says yes.
In the past 25 years, antibiotics have been prescribed at an alarming rate, and oddly, food allergies have increased right alongside. And thanks to this overuse, many antibiotics are no longer effective against invaders because the invaders have become resistant.
We need to create a new generation of antibiotics to replace our current supply, and once we do, we need to make sure it’s distributed in moderation, or we’ll end up repeating the whole process again.