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Dos and Don’ts About Food Allergies

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology estimates that more than 50 million Americans are allergic to something. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies about 4-6% of children and 4% of adults have food allergies. While food allergy symptoms are most common in babies and children, it can appear at any age.

What are food allergies? It is when your immune system overreacts to an identified dangerous food substance and triggers a protective response. Symptoms of food allergies can range from mild to severe and allergic reactions are not the same every time. The most severe reaction – anaphylaxis – can be life-threatening because it can stop your breathing, cause a drop in your blood pressure and affect your heart rate within minutes. Such a fatal reaction is one reason why managing food allergies is critical.

Here are some helpful tips in managing allergies:

1. DO Read Labels. DON’T Just Eat Anything

There are 8 types of food that cause 90% of all reactions including eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, soy and even certain seeds like sesame and mustard. The best way to manage your food allergy is AVOID consuming the food that you are allergic to. Carefully check the ingredient labels of all kinds of food products especially packaged and processed food. In the US, all manufacturers of packaged food are mandated by the Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) to identify, in simple, clear language, the presence of any common food allergens even if it is only an additive or flavoring.

2. DO Be Careful When Eating Out. DON’T Just Order Anything

Make sure to be extra careful when eating in restaurants. Always let the manager, chef and waiter know about your food allergy. If the waiter is not sure what the ingredients are in the dish, make sure they ask the chef first. You can use a chef card, a printed note that identifies your allergy and lists down what you cannot eat as well as

If your allergist prescribes emergency medication like an Epinephrine Auto-Injector like an EpiPen or TwinJet, make sure to take it with you at all times and carry two just in case. Epinephrine is the best treatment for Anaphylaxis so it can save your life. Some people with less severe reactions must always carry antihistamines at all times. Never ever leave home without your medications.

Learn more about managing allergies  by visiting America’s Allergist. If you are not sure about your food allergy, a professional and licensed allergist can evaluate your symptoms and identify the specific food that you may be allergic to. Let America’s Allergist help you find relief and be symptom free with the right treatment and management.

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