Chef Michael Chiarello’s Death and Allergy Risk: What to Know

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After a week-long hospital stay, 61-year-old chef Michael Chiarello died last week of a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. According to a representative for Chiarello’s company, neither his doctors nor his family knew what caused the fatal reaction. The Chiarello Group. Even so, his death highlights how serious and unpredictable all types of allergies can be.

People can be Allergic to almost anything, including pollen, dust, food, insect stings, animal skin, latex, mold and pharmaceuticals. For many people, it only takes a small piece or dot of the allergen to trigger a reaction that can quickly become life-threatening if not treated properly or efficiently.

Anaphylactic reactions are common Foods, insect repellents, medicines and latexAccording to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology.

Chiarello’s family was unaware of any allergies he might have had, a Grupo Chiarello representative told USA TODAY, but he was at home when the reaction occurred. What he was doing at the time of his reaction is still unknown.

Allergists say Chiarello’s death serves as an important reminder that even mild reactions can be dangerous, that food labels are too confusing for adults. can Creates new allergies.

Yes, you can develop allergies as an adult

Although most allergies appear in childhood, millions of adults develop one or more allergies, having been safely exposed to foods or substances hundreds of times before. Dr. A.S. Rita KachruAllergist with UCLA Health in Santa Monica, California.

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At least 15% of people with food allergies are first diagnosed in adulthood, FARE – a phenomenon that some researchers consider “An important emerging health problem.”

Allergies sometimes emerge in adolescence because your immune system takes time to develop antibodies called immunoglobulin E against a particular food or substance, mislabeling it as dangerous, Kachru said. These antibodies “fight” the food by releasing histamine and other chemicals that trigger allergic reaction symptoms such as an itchy throat, difficulty breathing, or vomiting.

Often, adults may experience a reaction to an allergy that developed in childhood, but for various reasons, such as changes in their immune system or the environment, the allergy returns, Kachru said.

A surprising factor in many adult allergies is the increased risk of anaphylaxis because people don’t have an EpiPen (an auto-injector that releases epinephrine into the body to reduce inflammation) on hand.

When allergies become fatal

Even mild allergies can lead to anaphylaxis, which is impossible to predict, Kachru said, because a reaction depends on exposure level, the state of your immune system and a previous history of allergic reactions.

“If it only takes one cashew to trigger an allergic reaction the first time, it may only take half a cashew to trigger the response the next time, which is more severe because you’ve primed your immune system,” Kachru said. By exposing yourself more.”

EpiPen treatment is critical in these situations, and should begin within seconds of the reaction, Kachru said: “Inflammation is like a snowball — once it starts, it’s very difficult to control.”

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If an allergic reaction symptom worsens over time, if you develop two or more mild symptoms, or if you have one severe symptom (like your throat closing up), use an EpiPen and then go to the hospital, Kachru said. Anaphylaxis can sometimes recur up to four hours after appropriate treatment, known as a biphasic reaction.

Otherwise, treat the mild symptom with an antihistamine such as Benadryl, and stay cool, as heat can trigger a greater histamine reaction.

Learn about nasal spray epinephrine: FDA clears first nasal spray as alternative to epinephrine autoinjectors

Remember, allergies can be found in unexpected places

Never assume you’re allergic to a food or substance, experts say, because it can lurk in the most unexpected places.

For example, fish and shellfish are sometimes dipped in milk to reduce their fishy smell, putting people with milk allergies at risk. Cross-contact – when an allergen is accidentally transferred from one food to another – you can become allergic despite signs indicating that the food is safe to eat.

Whether it’s your doctor, restaurant staff, or whoever cooked your dinner, don’t be shy about asking for details about how they prepared the food, if there was any cross-contamination, or what tools they used. You, experts say. Doing so will help protect you from exposure to your allergens.

And double check those food labels

Federal laws require that nine common allergens, including milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish, and sesame, be labeled on packaged foods sold in the United States.

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however, Subtleties in these laws According to the nonprofit FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education), some ingredients outside of these top nine allergens allow them to stay under the radar. Some may not be listed on the label, but rather are covered by vague terms such as “natural flavors.” Milk, Kachru says, may be listed as casein or lactalbumin, the proteins that make up milk.

There are also no laws requiring manufacturers to say what a product is May have come into contact Having a specific allergy.

That’s why you should read food labels every time you buy a product. When in doubt, call the manufacturer directly to better understand what products are or may be included.

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