The harrowing story of Gypsy Rose has piqued a lot of people’s interest, so much so that after a documentary was released, a series followed titled “The Act,” which premiered in Hulu in late March. It was one interesting tale of a mother named Dee Dee who had the Munchausen syndrome by proxy and her daughter, who the matriarch tricked into thinking that she was sick.
The narrative opened quite a debate, but more so, it gave us a reason to wonder if all the ailments mentioned were real—specifically, the sugar allergy that we saw in episode 1.
In one scene, Gypsy and Dee Dee were out meeting with their neighbors Lacey and Mel. Lacey offered the supposed “sick” girl some soda but even before Gypsy gets it near her lips, her mom rushed to stop her from doing so, announcing that her daughter has a sugar allergy while scrambling to find an EpiPen. As to what will happen to the child once she gets a taste of sugar, the mother said that her daughter would be coughing, her body would itch, her face would swell and get red, and the worst, she’ll die. Later on, she would learn that her mother was lying. This leaves us to ask, is it just a fictional illness or is it real?
The Legitimacy of Sugar Allergy
Allergy and Asthma Network allergist Purvi Parikh said that there really is such thing as a sugar allergy, however, it is so rare that people find it hard to believe it exists. In fact, there is still no test for it, the expert revealed and added that it is uncommon because human beings have glucose in the body, which comes from the food we eat.
For the sake of the argument, if you have an allergy to sugar, Parikh said the first thing you will notice is a skin symptom, perhaps an itching. Along with this is a more serious sign, like difficulty in breathing or loss of consciousness. In this case, an EpiPen would be handy. Dietician Cynthia Sass also said the same thing and people who have suffered symptoms after consuming sugar may have been having sugar intolerance. So while Gypsy didn’t really have the condition, her mom certainly wasn’t making the health issue up.
Sugar Intolerance vs. Sugar Allergy
While sugar allergy is very rare, what’s more common is sugar intolerance, which, unlike the former, have some lesser serious effects like headache and digestive problems. When we speak of allergy, this happens when our body reacts to certain food and which prompts an immune system response, the Food Allergy Research & Education said.
To put it simply, it is a result of our body attacking something, like food, because it sees it as an invader. The reason we experience hives or breathing issues whenever we have an allergy attack is that the body releases histamine, which triggers these symptoms.
Meanwhile, intolerance means our bodies have a problem absorbing or digesting food. One of the most common types under this is lactose intolerance because there is natural sugar in milk. Apart from symptoms like gastrointestinal distress, people can also experience nausea.
Truth Behind Allergies
With that in mind, it’s high time we ponder if what we experience is an allergy or intolerance – although of course, the best is to stay on the side of caution by heading to the doctor. In January, a study led by Northwestern University pediatrics professor Ruchi Gupta proved that there is a common misconception on how we react to food. The research found that only 10 percent of the participants have food allergies while 19 percent just think they do.