How to Live Easier with Food Allergies

Diego Ponieman, M.D., M.P.H.

by Diego Ponieman M.D., M.P.H.

Food allergies are ever present in our world today. In fact, Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) reports that over 32 million Americans have food allergies, as well as one in thirteen children. Unfortunately, the number of people with food allergies is only increasing.

Food allergies can come in all different forms. The eight most common allergenic foods are: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans.

While the allergies themselves can vary across all different food groups, the reactions to the allergies also span a wide range of magnitudes. With a mild reaction, allergies simply result in itchiness and discomfort. However, food allergies can also be very serious. FARE reports that every three minutes a food allergy sends someone to the emergency room. To avoid these dangerous situations, here are a few tips to make sure you stay healthy and safe:

Read food labels: Research shows that consumers with concerns about food allergies often misunderstand food labels about food allergen exposure that read “manufactured on shared equipment” or “may contain.” If you a food item “may contain” an item you are allergic too, it is best to choose a different one.

  • Stay away from cross-exposure: Make sure to wash any food preparation item that has had contact with an allergenic food. The remnants of allergenic foods are still able to cause a reaction.
  • Consider food alternatives: There are many alternatives to common allergenic foods such as milk, eggs, and wheat. Instead of risking an allergic reaction by using these ingredients, find the alternatives in your local supermarket.
  • Check out the Food Allergy Field Guide: This guide created is a helpful tool to avoid exposing yourself of your family to food allergies. It contains both tips and suggestions for eating without putting yourself at risk.
  • Carry two doses of your medication: If your doctor has prescribed you medication in case of emergency, always carry multiple doses and have it on your person at all times.
  • Prepare an Anaphylaxis Emergency Action Plan : For life-threatening allergies, make sure you always have someone with you that is able to execute your plan, which includes how to use the EpiPen and when to call 911.

The most important tip to remember for a person with food allergies is to always be prepared. Be prepared to read the labels, have a plan in place for avoiding exposure to allergenic foods, and, most importantly, make sure you have a plan in case of emergency.

And if you’re worried you might be developing a new allergy, visit your doctor to determine the best plan of action to stay prepared and safe.

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