Allergy Shmallergy

Simplifying life for families with food allergies.

The Myth of the “Mild” Food Allergy March 1, 2021

Filed under: Health,Preparedness — malawer @ 2:11 pm
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Patients and caregivers describe their food allergies in all sorts of ways, but there’s only one term that worries healthcare providers: mild.

Patients often list off their food allergies, distinguishing one from the other by stating, “I’m allergic to peanuts and have a MILD allergy to sesame.” or “I’m allergic to egg and have a life-threatening allergy to dairy.”

Statements like these are very concerning to healthcare professionals. They know something they wish EVERYONE did: there is no such thing as a “mild food allergy.” ALL food allergies have the potential to be life-threatening.

“Mild” and “severe” are words to describe allergic reactions. Reactions come in all forms and they CAN be mild. But it is impossible to know when a mild reaction will snowball into a severe, life-threatening one, called anaphylaxis.

When patients experience some of the less severe reactions to food – such as hives, swelling, itching or an upset stomach, for example – they believe that this will always be their reaction to that particular food. People often confuse their mild reaction for a mild food allergy. This mistake is certainly understandable, but it leaves patients, caregivers, teachers, chefs and waitstaff underprepared when a life-threatening reaction does occur.

Unfortunately, severity differs from one reaction to the next. And even doctors cannot predict how a patient will react to an allergen. Not only do reactions vary between different patients with the same food allergy, but reactions can differ from day to day in the same patient to the same allergen from one reaction to the next. This is why doctors recommend that patients strictly avoid their allergens and ALWAYS CARRY two epinephrine auto-injectors with them at all times.

There’s a saying in the food allergy world that sums it up:

“Past reactions do not predict future reactions.”

In short: each food allergy is as serious as the next – and every one can turn dangerous with the next bite. This is not to stoke fear, but rather a call to be vigilant about reading labels, take proper precautions, carry your epinephrine and follow your individualized emergency action plan should you have a reaction.


As a reminder, here are the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Mild SYMPTOMS include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Itching (often in the mouth, nose, and skin)
  • A FEW hives
  • Localized rash/redness
  • Mild nausea/stomach discomfort

More severe symptoms include:

  • Trouble swallowing/Throat tightening or closing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Wheezing/coughing/hoarse
  • Feeling dizzy/faint
  • Skin turning blue/low pulse rate
  • Significant swelling of the mouth, tongue or lips
  • Repetitive vomiting/diarrhea
  • Widespread hives or rash
  • Sudden anxiety/sense of danger

If you experience any severe symptoms or are in doubt, administer the epinephrine auto-injector and call 911 immediately.

 

Food Allergy Resolutions January 7, 2020

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Happy New Year!

 

Each new year brings the hope of getting things right, of bettering ourselves.  When we set new year’s resolutions, we often seek self-improvement, time for personal passions, valuable social interaction, travel and adventure.

 

For those with food allergies, a key component to all of those resolutions is sticking to good food allergy management practices.  There’s nothing you can’t do with food allergies, but you need to make sure you’re safe and prepared when you do it!

 

Setting small achievable goals will help reset your habits and keep you safe as you pursue your dreams.  Here are some food allergy resolutions we ALL should keep this year:

 

Auvi-q and Epipen

1. Always carry 2 epinephrine auto-injectors.  There are many varieties on the market today in all shapes and sizes.  Find one that fits your lifestyle and carry it with you everywhere (yes, everywhere).  This may take some creativity, but it’s critical because early use of epinephrine is shown to save lives and reduce complication at the hospital.

 

Symptoms of Severe reaction

2. Know the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction.  A severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis (ANA-FIL-AXIS) can be VERY SERIOUS and even fatal.  That’s why it’s key to know the signs of a reaction and to know what to do in the first few minutes.  The Language of a Food Allergic Reaction outlines both the symptoms as well as how a young child might describe them.

 

 

ingredient list - flickr mia

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3. Know the labeling laws. Food manufacturers are required to label for the Top 8 allergens – these are responsible for 90% of all allergic reactions.  But they are not required to label for cross-contamination or any allergen outside of the Top 8.  Are your allergens in that list?  What else should you know?  The Ins and Outs of Reading Food Labels is critical to help you make safe decisions for yourself and your family.

 

 

three women sitting on grass

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

4. Teach ONE person how (and when!) to use an epinephrine auto-injector.  Food allergies are a growing problem.  Statistically, 2 kids in every classroom have them. So do 1 in 10 adults.  We either know someone with a food allergy or we are allergic ourselves.  To protect patients and create food allergy allies, let’s teach one friend or family member (who doesn’t yet know) how to use an auto-injector.  Let them use a trainer if you have one – this will empower them should they need to use the real thing in an emergency.  Even elementary school kids can recognize symptoms of an allergic reaction and be taught to get an adult or nurse and call 911.  It’s easy!

 

 

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Send us your new year’s resolutions!  We love to hear what kinds of wonderful and exciting things you have your sights set on!

 

 

 

 
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