Holidays A Challenge For Those With Food Allergies


SUNDAY, November 25, 2018 – Holidays can be a particularly difficult time for people with food allergies. But a health expert suggests that these people can still enjoy festive encounters as long as they take certain precautions.

About 5% of children and 4% of adults in the United States have food allergies, according to the US National Institutes of Health. The most common allergens are milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanut, nuts, fish and shellfish.

"It's important for people to remember that even if the main ingredients in a dish are good, some ingredients may be hidden and cause allergic reactions," said Dr. Russell Traister, an allergist and immunologist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston . Salem, North Carolina

People with food allergies need to be aware of cross-contamination. For example, peanut protein can remain in a bowl or working surface for up to five hours and still cause a severe reaction for someone with a peanut allergy.

In addition, people with food allergies should always have an EpiPen or the generic version of the epinephrine self-injector with them. They should make sure it has not expired and that friends and family know how to use it, Traister said.

If you are attending a holiday meeting with a child or other family member who has food allergies, bring at least one dish that is safe for them if there are no other options, he said.

If you are organizing a meeting, keep all food packaging ready so guests can check the ingredients for possible allergens.

Food allergy symptoms can range from rashes, coughing, and vomiting to life-threatening reactions such as swelling of the tongue and inability to breathe.

"If you think you or a friend or family member is having an allergic reaction and you do not have an epinephrine auto-injector with you, call 911 immediately or go to the nearest emergency department," Traister said. a statement from Wake Forest. .

"Even if you use your epinephrine self-injector, you should still seek medical attention to avoid a second reaction," he added.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about food allergies.

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