A woman has become allergic to all foods, and even some smells can cause her to suffer from a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.
Lauren Wittering, 20, of Kettering, Northamptonshire, suffers from a condition known as mast cell activation syndrome, or MCAS, in which a person̵
“I loved food so much and now I can’t even be near it – just the smell of food sends me into anaphylaxis,” she explains.
“If I come into contact with something I’m allergic to, hives will appear quickly and cover my whole body.
“My breathing will deteriorate, I will fall unconscious, my stats will start to decline, my heart rate will get very high and I can have full anaphylaxis where I need adrenaline.”
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Wittering was diagnosed with MCAS four years ago after he started suffering from hives, feeling faint or developing a racing heartbeat when he ate soy or dairy.
Almost overnight, her reactions have intensified and she is now allergic to all foods, as well as alcohol, smoke and perfumes.
He must wear a mask every time he leaves the house, to avoid sniffing anything.
Doctors had to insert a feeding tube into Wittering’s stomach, but she has even become allergic to it, so she is now being fed through a tube that goes straight into her heart.
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Due to her condition, Wittering has been unable to consume food for over a year and has lost five stones in the past two years. It now weighs only six and a half stone.
Wittering began showing symptoms of MCAS during her A levels when her skin came out in hives after coming into contact with alcohol-based solutions during school chemistry classes.
Despite frequent visits to the nurse and fainting during exams, Wittering earned three first-year grades before being forced out of school due to her health.
She was hospitalized for six months, while there she was finally diagnosed with MCAS.
“The first food stuff was anything containing soy and then we started realizing that dairy was also affecting me and then I lost more and more foods,” explains Wittering.
“For about a year I ate five foods: chicken, rice, potatoes, carrots and broccoli.
“I just turned those foods around without reactions, but then practically overnight, I became anaphylactic to all those foods, so I couldn’t eat anything.”
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Upon realizing that she was now reacting to all foods, Wittering was hospitalized for two months, where she was placed on a feeding tube that entered her intestines.
Despite being the most hypoallergenic feeding tube available, Wittering has now become allergic to it, so he survives on an intravenous centerline, where all the nutrients he needs to live go directly into his heart’s main vessel.
She also has a special allergy mask that filters out allergens to allow her to go out in public, but she still has problems if a smell is particularly strong.
“Just before closing, my mother and I went to an outdoor shopping village,” he recalls.
“I had a wonderful day, but then in the last shop a woman opened a hand sanitizer next to me and I immediately went into anaphylaxis.”
Despite not being able to predict what will happen or how people will react, Wittering doesn’t want her condition to prevent her from going out and living her life.
In addition to MCAS, Wittering also suffers from a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, as well as postural tachycardia syndrome (an abnormal increase in heart rate that occurs after sitting or standing).
She is now waiting for a trial of a drug from America, which she hopes will one day help her enjoy food again.
“You don’t realize how much food is in your social life until you can eat,” she says.
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Despite everything she’s been through, Wittering has maintained a positive attitude and hopes to return to education with a dream of becoming a dietician after being inspired by those who helped her.
“Since I have not been well, I have been very interested in diatetics,” she explains. “I find it so amazing that you can be fed in your veins and it can keep you alive.”
Now he hopes that someday he will be able to help others cope with something similar.
“As my mother said, if I were able to do that, I would have empathy for other people as I experienced it myself,” she adds.
SWNS additional reports.
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