- In Hulu’s new show, The Act, Dee Dee Blanchard says her daughter Gypsy Rose has a sugar allergy, in addition to many other health issues.
- Dee Dee says Gypsy’s sugar allergy is so severe that it could kill her—but it turns out, Gypsy has no such allergy.
- While sugar allergies do exist, they’re extremely rare, and it’s much more likely for someone to have a sugar intolerance.
Hulu’s newest show,The Act, premiered last week, and while it’s beyond intriguing, it also left viewers with tons of questions.
The show follows the story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and her mother, Dee Dee, who was murdered by Gypsy Rose’s boyfriend in 2015.
Dee Dee—who suffered from Munchausen syndrome by proxy—convinced Gypsy and others that Gypsy suffered from numerous serious illnesses, in order to gain attention for herself. As such, Gypsy endured years of physical and mental abuse.
In the first episode of the show, we learn about a few of Gypsy’s “ailments”—childhood leukemia, epilepsy, and a heart murmur, among other things—but something specific stood out the most: Gypsy’s sugar allergy.
During one scene, while Gypsy and Dee Dee are outside visiting with their new neighbors, Mel and Lacey, Lacey offers Gypsy a sip of soda. But before Gypsy can put the can to her lips, Dee Dee rushes over. “She can’t have that!” yells Dee Dee. “She’s allergic to sugar! A sip, maybe, but a whole cup she could go into shock,” she adds, while reaching for Gypsy’s EpiPen (a.k.a., an epinephrine autoinjector for allergic reactions).
Later on, when Gypsy asks Dee Dee why she can’t even have a little sip of soda, Dee Dee tells Gypsy what a “severe reaction” to her alleged sugar allergy looks like: “First, you start coughing and hacking, and then your whole body gets itchy like it’s covered with spiders or something. And then your face blows up like a balloon and gets all red and puffy, and then your throat starts closing up, and before you know it, my baby’s gone.” Yikes.
Of course, later on in the episode and into episode two, you learn none of that is true. Gypsy ends up being totally fine when she comes into contact with sugar (she actually starts binging on the stuff late at night when her mom’s asleep, and Gypsy’s doctor even asks her to drink a soda in front of her). But it definitely begs the question: Is there such a thing as a sugar allergy?
Well? Is it possible to be allergic to sugar like Dee Dee claimed Gypsy was?
Yes, it is possible to have an allergy to sugar—but it’s incredibly rare. In fact, it’s so rare that doctors don’t even have a test for it, says Purvi Parikh, MD, an allergy and immunology clinical assistant professor at NYU Langone Health.
A sugar allergy is so rare, according to Dr. Parikh, because all of us already have sugar in our bodies in the form of glucose (your body processes the food you eat into glucose, which is then used for energy).
It’s much more likely for a person to have a sugar intolerance, says Dr. Parikh, which can cause non-dangerous side effects like headaches or an upset stomach, as opposed to an allergy—which is an actual immune system reaction to sugar.
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Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, that you did have a sugar allergy, though. The main sign, after ingesting sugar, would be some sort of skin symptom, says Dr. Parikh, like itching or hives. That’s often paired with other, more serious symptoms like breathing issues or loss of consciousness. And, yes, in that situation, an EpiPen would also be necessary, says Dr. Parikh.
So apparently, while Gypsy definitely didn’t have an actual sugar allergy (or even an intolerance, for that matter), Dee Dee wasn’t totally making up the condition, either. And honestly, that makes me sincerely hope that Gypsy is able to enjoy some soda during her prison sentence.
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