This week is Food Allergy Awareness Week. Food allergies are unpleasant and can trigger potentially dangerous reactions of the immune system to the allergy-causing foods or food allergens. Food allergies may develop in childhood or adulthood, and may persist or disappear; though their cause is unidentified. Symptoms include digestive trouble, rashes, hives, swollen airways and sometimes the potentially fatal stage of anaphylaxis*. The best way to avoid food allergies is to eliminate the problematic food or allergen from the food we eat. Food labeling laws require the most common food allergens be listed on foods. Some products that may contain food allergens in hidden form include cosmetics, certain medicines, pet food and toys – making it super important to read and understand ingredients in food labels. Although any food can cause an allergic reaction, the majority of food allergies are caused by eight common food allergens.
See image above for a food allergen substitute graph.
Finally, as a mother of a preschooler with a severe peanut allergy, I consider it especially important to educate children with food allergies as well as their parents, siblings, peers in school, teachers and extended family members about avoiding and managing food allergies to help prevent allergic reactions. Click here for some useful tips to stay safe and allergy-free!
*It’s important to know that anaphylaxis requires treatment with epinephrine and medical care involving monitoring vital signs.