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Monday, October 5, 2009

The 1, 2, 3s of Food Allergies (and a giveaway)

Food allergies are not such an uncommon phenomenon these days. I myself have a niece who is very sensitive to food coloring and flavor additives in food -- even the simple 'gold fish' will bring a break out of hives and a rash. Just as easily, a hug from someone wearing a scentilating lotion can irritate her skin and bring about a physical reaction within moments.
Our school has banned peanut based products (with exception to the child's personal lunch) as we had a student with a severe peanut allergy. So, it is something we all really need to be aware of and also have an understanding of what to look out for in diagnosing and recognizing an allergic reaction.

1, 2, 3s of Food Allergies

In recent years, food allergies have become a growing public health concern. Over the past 20 years the number of diagnosed cases of allergies, asthma, and autism rose in staggering proportions:

400% increase in food allergies

300% increase in asthma

400% increase in ADHD

Food allergies currently affect approximately 3 million children. Experts partially contribute this due to an increase in parent awareness as parents are quicker to have their children tested.

In the old days, children might be sensitive to one or two foods. Nowadays a child may be allergic to and/or have sensitivities to 6 or more foods.

One theory about this rise in food allergies is thought to be due to food processing techniques. Another theory blames the germ-a-phobe generation, stating children are so protected that their immune systems are unable to properly develop and are suppressed.

A third possibility is the fact that food -- especially more exotic and foreign foods -- are more readily available and in increased variety. The more foods a person is exposed to, the greater the chance of increased allergies.

Still, most wouldn’t consider peanuts, milk and eggs an exotic or foreign food and these are part of the issue. Peanut allergies have doubled from 1997 to 2002; that’s a five year span. Milk and eggs are foods children have been eating for generations, but it seems to be taking children much longer these days to outgrow allergies to them.

Why we may not know why there is a growing increase in food allergies, as parents we do know we need to become better educated in this area regarding what are food allergies and how to prevent them.

Robyn O’Brien is the founder of Allergy Kids, author of THE UNHEALTHY TRUTH: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It, and a mother of four. On her website, Robyn educates us a little on what allergies are and how they are able to affect our bodies.

“Because 70% of our immune system is found in our digestive tracts, the foods that we eat and the chemicals that they contain can have a significant impact on our health.

As these chemicals in foods work through a child's digestive system, they can corrode his or her "pipes" in much the same way that chemical toxins corrode plumbing! This "chemical corrosion" of the digestive tract can leave a child vulnerable to a host of auto-immune disorders, including allergies, asthma, Celiac's disease and other conditions.”

Knowing that our immune system is so dependent on our digestive system, it makes more sense that we know more about what foods to watch out for and signs and symptoms of a food allergy reaction.

Gina Clowes with Allergy Moms provided an extensive list to help identify an allergic reaction to a food item.

Mild to Moderate Allergic Reaction Symptoms:

  • Hives, itchy rash, blotches, pinkness
  • Red eyes, swollen eyes
  • Itching, tingling mouth
  • Nausea, abdominal cramps

Severe Allergic Reactions Symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing, wheezing
  • Lethargy, blueness, fainting
  • Tightening of the throat, feeling of something in the throat
  • Hacking cough, horse voice
  • Vomiting, diarrhea
  • Large, diffuse hives
  • Tongue swelling, lips swelling or blue like in tint
  • Reactions is progressing and several areas are affected

In treating an unexpected reaction, it depends on whether a child has known food allergies and his history. Minor symptoms, such as a rash or hives, can often be treated with liquid antihistamine and then monitored for any additional symptoms.

For severe symptoms – especially respiratory symptoms – call 911. If you have an epinephrine (Epi-Pen) for known allergies, administer it along with antihistamine and then call 911.

For children and adults with life-threatening food allergies, Gina instructs that there should be a food allergy action plan to detail what to do in the even of a reaction. This will be helpful to a caregiver in the event the child or adult is unable to administer his own medication.

Amy Recob’s daughter was diagnosed with severe peanut and tree nut allergies at 18 months old. This led Amy to author the book, The BugaBees: friends with food allergies. The characters in the book help children understand the ‘Big 8’ in food allergies: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, soy, fish, shellfish, wheat and eggs. These make up 90% of all allergic reactions in the United States.

Parents also need to be aware of other items that might have been exposed in a facility where peanuts and other food allergens are. Also, be sure to read food labels as an item not thought to be a danger might either contain a food allergen or have been processed in a plant with one.

These tips and this information leaves me feeling a whole lot more enabled to deal with food allergies, should it be within my own children or a play-pal who is visiting. I hope this information has been as helpful to you too.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Do you have a child or know a child with moderate or severe food allergies? Well, I have two great giveaways for you, if you!
First, I have a copy of the colorful and beautifully illustrated book, "The BugaBees, friends with food allergies" up for grabs. As mentioned in the above post, this book was written by Amy Recob. Amongst other degrees and job titles, Amy is a mother to two children -- one of whom lives with life-threatening peanut and tree nut allergies.

bugabee-book-cover.png

This book would be a great addition to your child's book shelf or, your child's school library.
SECOND GIVEAWAY:

allery.jpg

You can win a Stuck on You special Allergy pack that includes sticky dots, wristbands, and a bag tag in your choice of gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, or nut free. (The allergy pack is not available personalized with your child's name). To win:
Mandatory to qualify for this giveaway: 1 entry) visit the website The BugaBees and tell me something about the author, the site, the book, or something else you picked up while there. AND/OR,
1 entry) visit the website Stuck on You.
Additional Entries:
  • 1 entry) comment why you would love to have this adorable book and/or these wonderful allergy labels
  • 1 entry) follow me on twitter @Glass_Half_Full
  • 2 entries) follow my blog
  • 2 entries) grab my badge; or remind me if you already have it up
  • 5 entries) blog about this article post and giveaway
  • 5 entries) email a link to this article post to five friends with me included in the BCC
Additional Daily entries:
  • 1 entry) Tweet "What everyone should know about kids and food allergies "
  • 1 entry) Tweet this giveaway
You can do this everyday, up to 5 times a day for each tweet, until this giveaway closes. You must list a comment for each tweet so that I am able to keep up with the entries to tally correctly.

One separate comment is needed for each entry to be counted. This Giveaway ends on October 26th, 2009 at midnight, CST.

Good luck!


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4 comments:

kcinnova said...

Excellent post, FW!
I'm not in need of the giveaway prize (EB outgrew his dairy & soy allergies before he went to Kindergarten, THANK GOD!!) so please pass me up when it comes to drawing my name.

Fortune Cookies said...

This is a WONDERFUL post! As the wife of an Allergy Clinic Nurse Practitioner, and an ex nurse myself, I have to tell you what an excellent and thorough job you did with this article! I commend you on providing accurate and articulate information that is desperately needed to parents out there. Not only so they can recognize the symptoms in their children, but in themselves as well. The Wifester tells me all the time about another patient who comes in complaining of many of these symptoms after eating certain foods, but never realizing that they are allergic. Sometimes, the patient continues to eat the food because they do not believe that GI upset and hives are a sign and symptom of allergic reaction, and then they end up with an anaphylactic reaction, which can be deadly. Everyone should heed the warning signs that your body gives you and seek the help of an allergist for proper treatment if you suspect a food allergy.

Fortune Cookies said...

Oh, and I do not need to be in the drawing. Thanks :)

Farmer*swife said...

Thank you for the great feeback. Of course, it helps to have good resources and experts to talk with. ;-)

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