Gina Rodriguez had a big health scare thanks to a teeny-tiny berry this week. She accidentally ingested a food she is highly allergic to while enjoying some backstage goodies before her appearance on The Talk, People reported.
“We just want to start out asking if you are OK, because you had a health incident backstage,” host Sara Gilbert revealed when Rodriguez first took a seat onstage. “So the problem with me is that when you offer free food, I eat it. Like, every time, without fail,” Rodriguez said with a laugh. (Relatable.)
“I was so hungry this morning, so I walked into the beautiful rooms that you have for everyone that comes and visits, and there was just food displayed and I just started maxing," Rodriguez explained. "And I was like, ‘I definitely ate a blueberry. Definitely, definitely that tastes like a blueberry.’ And they're like, 'Definitely, that's a blueberry.'"
Gilbert then asked her, “And you’re allergic?” to which Rodriguez replied, "I'm deathly allergic to blueberries."
Fortunately, the studio had a health professional on hand to get the Jane the Virgin star treatment ASAP. “They sent a nurse, I took allergy medicine,” Rodriguez said. “So if I’m a little loopy, don’t blame me, blame the meds," she joked. "But we’re good, we’re good. No hives. No hives! We're clear.”
The severity of an allergic reaction triggered by food can range from mild to life-threatening.
About 4 to 6 percent of children and 4 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from a food allergy, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI). While there are eight common kinds of food allergies (milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanut, tree nut, fish and crustacean shellfish, per the ACAAI), more than 170 different food allergies have been identified, Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) reports.
The symptoms, which develop anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours after ingesting the food, according to the Mayo Clinic, include a tingling or itching feeling in the mouth; swelling in areas on the face and throat; hives and itching; wheezing or nasal congestion; and GI symptoms, like stomach pain and vomiting.
A dangerous acute allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, causes your airways to constrict and your throat to swell and makes it difficult to breathe. If not treated immediately, with something like an EpiPen, it can result in coma or even death.
If you realize you've eaten something you're allergic to, assess your symptoms and take the necessary action ASAP.
Obviously, not eating the food in the first place—reading labels carefully, asking what the ingredients in something are, avoiding cross-contaminated products—is ideal. But, as Rodriguez demonstrated, that's not always how things go in the real world.
Fortunately, many reactions, like hers, can be quickly treated or even prevented. Should an allergen find its way into your belly and trigger a minor allergic reaction, over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines (like Benadryl, Claritin, or Allegra) should do the trick to manage your uncomfortable symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic.
But because minor reactions can quickly become severe, it's important to monitor your symptoms. If your symptoms don't go away or worsen, or if you're having difficulty breathing, seek medical attention. If you do develop a severe allergic reaction, then you may already carry an EpiPen prescribed by your allergist for use in situations like this. But whether or not you have one, the ACAAI recommends that you still head to the nearest emergency facility at the first sign of a severe reaction just to make sure you're OK.
Fortunately, Rodriguez avoided an ER visit thanks to her quick thinking. But her close call is a good reminder that food allergies are no joke.