Managing food allergies
HOUSTON, Texas — Food packages often come with the caution, “Warning: may contain peanuts,” and for good reason. It’s estimated that more than 1 million Americans suffer from peanut allergies and their reaction if exposed can be life-threatening.
Other common food allergies are to cow’s milk, tree nuts, fish and shell fish, egg and even some fruits and veggies, said Dr. Celine Hanson, professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and chief of the allergy/immunology clinic at Texas Children’s Hospital.
Symptoms of food allergies can range from mild to severe and can affect various parts of the body, including the digestive system, the respiratory system and the skin.
Hanson offers several ways that patients can manage their food allergies. The best tactic is to avoid foods that cause allergies altogether, Hanson said. But in addition, medications such as antihistamines and corticosteroids are available to help manage symptoms. Patients who suffer severe reactions should keep a device such as an EpiPen® on hand so that they can administer an epinephrine shot.
Allergy sufferers should wear a medical bracelet or necklace with information about their allergy, and schools, caregivers and even the parents of children’s friends should be notified of food allergies.