Food Allergy Action Month
Tips for Coping with Food Allergies
May is Food Allergy Action Month, food allergies affect an estimated 15 million Americans many of which are children.
Living with a food allergy can be scary and disruptive to our everyday lives, as many processed foods may contain trigger foods which we are unaware of.
People can be allergic to many foods the most common are peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, soybeans, wheat, corn, cow’s milk, fish and even corn. The wide variety of food proteins which our immune systems can overreact to makes everyday living difficult for many children and adults.
To help you cope with this condition, the staff of Prestige ER has compiled a few simple tips which you can incorporate into your daily routine to minimize your risk of exposure to food allergens which could potentially be deadly.
#1 Always Read Labels
Processed foods could contain traces of food allergy triggers like peanuts, or tree nuts, others add fillers which could contain wheat, corn, or soy products.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with a food allergy, reading labels is a good way to avoid exposure to allergens.
#2 Avoid Cross-Contamination
It is rare for all members of a family to follow an allergen-free diet if you are preparing different meals for your family or friends it is important to avoid cross-contamination when preparing the food.
If you live with someone who has a food allergy, it is a good idea to have separate cooking and eating utensils. And all dishes and utensils need to be thoroughly washed with hot soapy water after each use.
# 3 Speak Up
If your child has a food allergy you are obligated to inform the school officials about his/her condition, it is also a good idea to speak directly with their teacher and the other children in the class to explain the condition.
If you are dining out, make sure to inform the manager or chef as well as your waiter about your food allergies before you order.
It’s a good idea to carry what is known as a chef card, a printed list of all the ingredients you are allergic to, as well as a request that all dishes, plates, utensils as well as the surfaces they are prepared on be free of any traces of the known allergens.
#4 Recognize Your Symptoms
Being able to spot the early symptoms of an allergic reaction could save your life or that of a loved one. Take time to educate your family, friends, and colleagues about the symptoms of your specific food allergy symptoms.
There are many symptoms associated with an allergic reaction to food, and these can affect different parts of the body:
- Skin: Hives, itching, red bumps, rash, changes in color, or swelling of the skin
- Eyes: Swelling around the eyes, redness, itching, and tearful eyes
- Upper Respiratory: Nasal congestion, sneezing, runny nose, hoarseness, and dry cough
- Lower Respiratory: Chest tightness, wheezing, shortness of breath, and cough
- Mouth: Swelling of lips, tongue, palate, or an itching sensation in either of these parts
- Gastrointestinal: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, stomach cramps, indigestion, bloody stools.
- Cardiovascular: Rapid or slow heartbeat, low blood pressure, dizziness, faint, or loss of consciousness.
Anaphylaxis is an extreme allergic reaction where the whole body is affected. Anaphylaxis can occur in different ways:
- A single reaction after being exposed to an allergen which improves with or without treatment
- Two reactions which can occur between 8 and 72 hours apart
- A long-lasting reaction that may continue for several hours or even days.
Regardless of how it occurs, anyone suffering from anaphylaxis should be rushed to our Prestige ER center for immediate treatment.
#5 Be Prepared
If you have a food allergy it is important to have an action plan in case of exposure, knowing what to do and keeping your calm could mean the difference between life and death.
We recommend you download the anaphylaxis emergency action plan your doctor should fill it in, and you should carry a copy of it with you at all times. This will help our ER physicians treat your symptoms faster and more accurately.
#6 Carry Your Medication
If you have been prescribed emergency medication such as an EpiPen, make sure you always have it with you, and if possible carry a double dose.
Some allergy symptoms can be treated with antihistamines; if your doctor has prescribed them make sure you take them with you when you are out.
#7 Learn how to Use an Auto-Injector
Anaphylaxis can be treated with a medication called epinephrine a form of adrenaline. Epinephrine works best when injected within minutes of the onset of an allergic reaction.
Although most people who suffer from food allergies know how to auto-inject themselves, if their reaction is too severe or they lose consciousness they may not be able to do it themselves, knowing how to apply this type of medication could help you save the life of a loved one.
Response time to a food allergy is important, at Prestige ER we have expert emergency physicians ready to treat you or your loved one 24/7.
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