Meet the young woman who is allergic to ALL foods – and even the smell of her favorite food can knock her out.
Lauren Wittering, 20, loved eating and drinking with friends, eating in carvings, and eating fish and chips with her family.
But four years ago she started coming out in beehives, fainting, or getting a racing heart rate from eating soy or dairy products.
Her reactions intensified practically overnight and now she is allergic to ALL foods – as well as alcohol, smoke and perfume.
She’s even allergic to alcohol-based hand sanitizers – making the pandemic a difficult time. When people simply open a tube next to them, they have difficulty breathing and can collapse.
Her allergy – caused by a condition called mast cell activation syndrome – means she has to wear a mask every time she leaves the house so she doesn’t smell anything.
Desperate Lauren lost a staggering FIVE stone in two years, fell to a tiny six and weighs only six and a half stones.
She recently even developed an allergy to the feeding tube that went into her stomach – now she’s being fed through a tube that goes into her heart.
Lauren of Kettering, Northamptonshire said, “I loved the food so much and now I can’t even be around – just the smell of food will put me into anaphylaxis.
“When I come into contact with something I’m allergic to, hives quickly appear and cover my entire body.
“My breathing will worsen, I will pass out, my stats will start to drop, my heart rate will be very high, and I can deal with anaphylaxis when I need adrenaline.
“I haven’t eaten for over a year, I’ve lost five stones in the last two years and was malnourished.
“I loved roasts with lots of Yorkshire puddings – I just loved food and you only realize how much food is part of your social life when you can’t eat.”
Lauren began showing symptoms of MCAS during her high school year after coming out in beehives when exposed to alcohol-based solutions in chemistry class at school.
Despite frequent nurse visits and fainting on exams, Lauren scored three A * s in her freshman year before she had to drop out of school for health reasons.
She was hospitalized for six months, where she was eventually diagnosed with MCAS and had allergic reactions to alcohol, smoke, perfume, and most foods.
After the diagnosis, Lauren’s family even discovered that they had become allergic to their dog Hallie, and after nine years together they had to send the dog away to live with their father in Spain.
Mast cell activation syndrome is a condition in which a patient’s mast cells are overly triggered by unusual substances, causing allergic reactions and anaphylaxis.
Lauren said, “If someone was pumping alcohol gel down the hallway and I inhaled the smell, I would go into anaphylaxis.
“The first foods were something with soy – soy was the main thing – and then we found out that dairy was affecting me too, and then I kept losing food.
“For about a year I had five foods to eat – chicken, rice, potatoes, carrots, and broccoli.
“I just twisted these foods with no reactions, but then I became anaphylactic for all of these foods almost overnight so I couldn’t eat anything.”
After Lauren became allergic to all foods, she was admitted to the hospital again and stayed there for two months with a feeding tube inserted into her intestines.
Even though Lauren is given the most hypoallergenic feeding tube, she’s even allergic now, having used it last year.
She now survives on an intravenous midline where all of the nutrients she needs to live go straight to the main vessel of her heart.
She has a special allergy mask that filters out allergens so she can go out in public, but still has problems if an odor is particularly strong.
She said, “Just before the lockdown, my mother and I went to an outdoor shopping village.
“We had a great day, everything was fine and then a woman in the last store was opening a hand sanitizer next to me and I immediately had anaphylaxis.
“You can’t predict what will happen or how people will react, but I still go out because you still have to be able to live a life around the disease.”
In addition to MCAS, Lauren also suffers from a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and postural tachycardia syndrome.
Incredible she has kept a positive attitude and hopes to return to education with dreams of becoming a nutritionist after being inspired by those who have helped her.
She said, “When it started it was really scary, but I think I’m just used to it now.
“I’m waiting for a try with a wonder drug that just came out of America. I hope that maybe one day this drug will help me get something back as I loved food.
“It is amazing that my feeding tube exists because it is now literally my lifeline.
“I’ve been very interested in dietetics ever since I felt unwell. I think it’s so amazing that your veins can feed you and keep you alive.
“I was really interested in this, and as my mom said, if I could, I would have the empathy for other people and I went through it myself.”