I was born in March of 1995. By 1998, it was discovered that I am allergic to caffeine.  I know what you’re thinking, “you’re allergic to CAFFEINE? Oh my gosh, how do you function?” The answer to that is: I have no idea.

When you find the reason to why I have so much energy all the time, could you let me know? I’d love to sell it and make a fortune.  Okay, I’m getting off subject now.  The point is, I’m allergic to caffeine. This means I have to watch what I drink, what I eat, and what medicine I put into my body. I have never tried Mountain Dew, I have no idea what Dr. Pepper tastes like, and I for sure have no idea what energy drinks taste like.

I do, however, know what caffeinated coffee tastes like. I didn’t mean to try non-decaf coffee, there was a mix-up in my order at a well known coffee chain.  This mix-up happened on my way to work.  The coffee shop I stopped at is one that I stopped at almost every day on my way to work, it was part of my morning routine. When the worker handed me my coffee, I didn’t think to look to see if the decaf box was marked on my coffee cup, this coffee shop doesn’t usually mark the boxes, but I trust them enough to put decaf in my cup when I ask for it.  One large decaf iced coffee with cream and sugar, my normal order.

Normal? Not even close.

Did you know that caffeinated iced coffee is made with more caffeine than hot coffee since the ice dilutes the coffee? It is. After drinking half of my coffee, I began to get a horrible migraine. Another thing you should probably know about me is that I’m extremely prone to getting migraines, so this was nothing new, just another typical Thursday.

As the time passed, my migraine got worse, I almost passed out, and I couldn’t stand.  I gave the rest of my coffee to a coworker who immediately knew that it wasn’t decaf.  Once we realized this, I called my mom to pick me up from work and bring me home, there was no way I was going to drive home.

During the drive home, I could feel my heart constricting and then releasing and beating faster than if I had just sprinted a 5k.  I got home and immediately tried to eat some toast to soak up the caffeine that was in my system.  Instead of soaking up the caffeine, the break made me nauseous and I almost vomited. I decided that sleeping off the coffee would be the best thing to do.

Three hours later, my dad woke me up.  He is a retired firefighter paramedic.  He took my blood pressure and it was almost double what the blood pressure of a healthy 21-year-old should be.

We decided that going to the hospital would be the best thing to do.

Since I was having heart and breathing problems, the nurse in the emergency room took me in as soon as we arrived. After several tests were ran, the doctor decided that the only thing for us to do would be to have me go home and sleep it off. He informed me that if they gave me high blood pressure medicine there was a high chance I would have a seize out from the drastic drop.

Caffeine: the allergy no one thinks of

One week later, I was back to normal.  Although, I am much more cautious when it comes to what I order at places.  According to WebMD, 30,000 people are sent to the ER each year for allergic reactions caused by food and approximately 55 percent of all people in the US test positive to one or two allergens.

Caffeine is a growing allergy. If you think you may be allergic to caffeine, this post from Caffeine Informer might help you determine if you are having an allergic reaction. In my reaction, I experienced over half of the symptoms listed on that site.

My trip to the Emergency Room could have been avoided, but it wasn’t.

I could have checked my coffee, but I didn’t. The barista could have asked me if I said regular or decaf, but they didn’t. These things will be avoided in the future.

If you have an allergy, don’t take it lightly. Don’t be afraid to ask questions at restaurants or to ask your friends to put away their food because you can have a reaction.

You matter, your life matters.