Why I dislike the word: allergy

The word allergy sort of defines me in a way. I am a child with an allergy, and my entire life is sort of built around the fact that I have such an allergy. However, I just don’t like the word. It just isn’t specific enough for me. An allergy can mean so many different things. If someone goes up and tells you “I have allergies,” you have no idea what they mean. When someone tells me they have an “allergy”, I typically find their “allergies” fall into one of three categories .

The first is just seasonal allergies. The weather changes, and people start to sneeze, or their eyes water, etc. These are just super mild reactions to one’s environment. The next is a food intolerance. When people eat what they are intolerant to, they get sick and barf and that’s about it. The final type of allergy is like what I have. If I eat nuts, my throat closes, my heart stops, and I will die if I don’t use my epi-pen.  I will have an anaphylactic reaction if I am exposed to peanuts or tree nuts. Anaphylaxis is a reaction over several systems that could cause death.  Anaphylaxis requires an epi-pen.

This is precisely why I don’t like the word “allergies.” It can mean so many things, from having a runny nose when going outside to literally dying within minutes of eating something. That’s why people always have to clarify. For example, I don’t just have any allergies, I have “anaphylactic food allergies.” But seriously? Half the people I come across don’t know what the word anaphylactic is and I have to explain my allergy to them. You know, the all too familiar: “If I eat this I die” speech.

There should be a general, easy to remember (and spell) term for my allergies. Like mega-allergies or something like that. It would just cause a lot less confusion, because right now, when someone tells me that their allergies are acting up, I don’t know whether to give them a tissue or a shot of epinephrine.

Until next time!


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