How to get started safely with a new food allergy diagnosis
Avoid the food your child is allergic to.
In some cases this is easier than others.
- Know if the allergen is on the label. Federal law requires packaged food companies to label the top 8 allergens. These are milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts (like walnuts or pecans), wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish (like lobster, shrimp or crab).
- If the allergen is not in the top 8 call the manufacturer.
- Don’t get comfortable. Continue to check the ingredients before you buy it again. Products can change without notification on the label.
- Cross contact is a thing. There can be small traces of food on other food. In factories, food can touch other food through being on the same surface, mixers, etc. At home, this can happen when sharing utensils. Usually the trace amounts are so small you can’t see it.
Make a plan for when there is a reaction—right now.
It’s probably going to happen so let’s get you ready for it.
- Make sure you fill your prescription for epinephrine, and carry the auto-injector set that isn’t expired. (Did you know you are supposed to carry around two auto-injectors with you? You may need to use the second in case the first isn’t enough. A common misconception is that you are supposed to split the 2 pack up!)
- Fill out an Emergency Care Plan with your allergist. We love this template.
- Print out the plan and give it to people that care for your child.
- Look into medical ID
Always be vigilant for a reaction
- Always watch for symptoms.
- Symptoms usually start 2 minutes to 2 hours after exposure.
- Mild symptoms: hives or itchy nose
- Severe symptoms: trouble breathing, repetitive vomiting, weak pulse
- Biphastic reaction: This is where there are 2 waves of symptoms. After the first go away, a second wave can start 1 to 4 hours later.
- Reactions can be different every time.
Know how to treat a food reaction
- Anaphylaxis is treated with an injection of epinephrine, a type of adrenaline.
- Talk to your doctor so you know what to do and when. He/she can also show you how to use it.