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“Meat allergy, is that even a thing?”

Name: Malin Lundén Schmid
Age: 48 years
What: Diagnosed with meat allergy in 2014.

Malin Lundén Schmid, photo: Rebecka Uhlin. “That was my first reaction when I heard what they suspected I had suffered from for so many years. I laughed and thought the doctor was joking. But then, when I was finally diagnosed, the real reaction came. I have a very emotional connection to food. I really enjoy combining foods and wines, and I have always been a meat eater.

I felt such an anger and grief when I had the news that I think it contributed to the anaphylactic reaction I had just moments later. I had had meat for lunch, and after the doctor told me the diagnosis, I had a strong reaction which ended with an ambulance to Södersjukhuset. Now I have completely stopped eating meat, and I don’t miss it, but it has taken me a long time to accept it.

I always read the ingredients and I eat more healthily in general, more organic and fewer semi-finished products. I make my own salami and fresh sausage from duck and chicken. There’s a solution to most things, but it’s been a challenge. I had symptoms for so many years before I was finally diagnosed. At first, I would break out in hives fairly often, and later I felt the effect on my breathing, with coughing and hoarseness, and I couldn’t figure out why. The doctors couldn’t either.

The reaction is often delayed by several hours, and you may not have a reaction every time either, so it’s pretty difficult to make a connection with the food. But the symptoms kept getting worse, I had a few anaphylactic reactions at work and was given adrenaline shots, antihistamine tablets and cortisone that I was to carry at all times, but still no-one knew what I was allergic to.

I finally ended up with a doctor who knew about meat allergy and was able to give me a diagnosis. The link to ticks fits for me too. I have spent my summers in the Finnish and Swedish archipelago, and I have had tick bites every year.”

As told to: Fredrik Hedlund, first published in Swedish in Medicinsk Vetenskap No4/2018.