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Food Allergy Advocacy Sheet

By EmpowHER

Food allergies can be potentially life-threatening. It’s important to consult your doctor or visit an urgent care facility if you suspect you are having a reaction to a particular food. Some questions to ask when consulting with your doctor include, but should not be limited to the following:

  • What is a food allergy? A food allergy is when the immune system reacts to a certain food.
  • What are symptoms of food allergies? Some reactions include hives, asthma or in more severe cases, anaphylaxis.
  • What causes food allergies? When the immune system reacts to food, it creates immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies; the antibodies react with the food, and histamine, and other chemicals are released.
  • How are food allergies tested? Patients often undergo a type of blood test or skin prick test to determine specific allergies.
  • How are food allergies treated? Avoidance is the best way to ensure no reaction occurs. However, removing a type of food from your diet can cause an unbalanced diet. Work with your doctor to modify your diet. Epinephrine, also called adrenaline, may be administered/prescribed to control a severe reaction. It is important to carry your EpiPen® or similar self-injectable device with you at all times.
  • What is the difference between a food allergy and food intolerance? Having a food allergy relates to the immune system, while experiencing food intolerance (ex., lactose intolerance) relates to digestion, and likely is not life-threatening.
  • What information should I share with my doctor if I suspect I have food allergies? Doctors need to know of any reactions/symptoms you may have had and the timing of when the food was ingested. You may want to keep a food diary so you can keep track of what you’ve eaten, at what times, and if you experienced any symptoms/reactions. Be sure to read food labels and ask questions about food preparation before eating.
  • Is it possible to develop food allergies as an adult? While most food allergies occur in children under the age of 5, adults have been known to develop food allergies. A report estimated that 4 percent of all adults could have food allergies. It is unknown what type of reaction will occur each time an allergic food is ingested, so it is imperative to practice avoidance.
  • What are the most common food allergies? Shellfish, Milk, Soy, Wheat, Peanut, and Egg, are the most common adult food allergies.
  • What if my symptoms worsen or come back? If a severe reaction occurs (difficulty breathing, wheezing, etc.), call 911. It may be a good idea to consult an allergist for more information, and wear a medic alert bracelet to notify emergency technicians of your allergies, ensuring proper handling of your symptoms.

www.foodallergy.org Frequently Asked Questions, About Food Allergy
www.google.com/health Food Allergy
www.mayoclinic.com Food Allergy

Christine Jeffries is a writer/editor for work and at heart, and lives in a home of testosterone with her husband and two sons. Christine is interested in women’s health and promoting strong women.

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