May 12 – 18 is Food Allergy Awareness Week!

Food Allergy Awareness Week provides an opportunity to raise awareness about food allergy and anaphylaxis.   As prevalence of food allergy continues to rise, the overall awareness and education surrounding food allergy is growing. Below we share some quick facts about food allergy!

  • Food allergy is NOT the same as a food intolerance. Food allergies involves the immune system responding to a food that the body mistakenly believes is harmful, and reactions can be life-threatening.
  • 1 in 13 children and up to 1 in 10 adults in the US has a food allergy. This accounts for up to 30 million Americans! For children, this averages 2 children per classroom.
  • Any food can cause a reaction. However, 90% of all food allergy are caused by 8 common foods: Peanuts, Tree nuts, Milk, Egg, Wheat, Soy, Fish and Shellfish.
  • Currently there is no cure for food allergies. Strict avoidance of the food is the only way to prevent an allergic reaction.
  • It’s important to read labels each and every time before eating a food product. Ingredients and manufacturing practices can change over time, or vary depending on the size of the food (jumbo vs. snack size).
  • Trace amounts of an allergen can trigger reactions in some people. Reactions can be mild or severe, and past reactions to a food do not predict future reactions.
  • Hand sanitizer gel is not sufficient to remove allergens. Using warm/hot soapy water or a commercial “tidy” wipe is best.
  • Symptoms of a food reaction can develop rapidly, usually within 30 minutes but sometimes within just 1-2 minutes.
  • Anaphylaxis is the most serious type of allergic reaction. It usually comes on quickly and can be life-threatening. Epinephrine is the most important and first-line treatment for anaphylaxis. Epinephrine auto-injectors can be life-saving. It’s important to not hesitate and use the epinephrine right away, then call 911 for observation in the emergency room after any use of epinephrine.
  • Food allergy patients should always carry two epinephrine auto-injectors and meet with and review their food allergies and anaphylaxis plan with their allergist at least once per year.

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