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Sandra Ali shares her story of developing a sudden nut allergy

DETROIT – There has been a lot of talk about food allergies in adults in our newsroom over the past week following our special report. I wanted to share a personal story in hopes it might help one of you.

As moms, we know about food allergies in children. Moms talk about this stuff all the time. Shortly after having my twins, I had a major allergic reaction to something I’ve eaten my entire life. It can happen to adults. In my case, it was a few weeks away from my 42nd birthday.

READ: Local 4’s Kila Peeples suddenly developed food allergies, shares story to warn others

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Someone had given me a gift basket as a present. It was full of bags of delicious things from a local grocery store. I opened one of the bags of nuts and grabbed some cashews. A few minutes later my lips started to tingle.

Honestly, I didn’t think about it and moved on. I paid no attention to it and never really thought about it. It was a big mistake.

A few days later, the gift basket was still in my car. I left work to drive home to pick up my kids and take them to their evening activity. I called a friend, then opened the giant bag of cashews. I was on the phone and I wasn’t thinking. I hadn’t eaten and was starving.

I spoke on the phone and swallowed most of the bag of cashews while driving over the Lodge on my way home. I remember hanging up the phone with my girlfriend saying, “I have to go. Suddenly, I don’t feel very well.

By the time I pulled into my driveway, I was drenched in sweat and my lips had started to swell. Then it became increasingly difficult to breathe.

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I remember wondering if I was going to die. I opened the car door and threw up all over — I’m talking projectile vomiting. It took at least a good 20 minutes to start calming down and breathing easier.

It was absolutely terrifying. Benadryl started to help. I saw an allergist immediately and had several epipens to take with me.

I started going through the allergy testing process. It took a while, but eventually my doctor was able to confirm that I was allergic to nuts, specifically cashews. Funnily enough, my doctor said that cashews are technically not nuts, but are closely related, along with pistachios, almonds, pecans, and walnuts, because they are drupe seeds? Go figure.

A few years later, after working with doctors at the University of Michigan Allergy Center, I discovered that some allergists believed that pregnancies could trigger food allergies. In my case, that made a lot of sense.

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Moral of the story: If you start having any kind of reaction after eating something, even if it’s something you’ve eaten your whole life, seek help immediately. Don’t ignore the symptoms or warning signs.

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