Each year in the United States, over 200,000 people require medical care due to an allergic reaction from food. Over 170 foods are can cause these reactions, so it is important to be conscious of the foods you and your loved ones are consuming. By understanding food allergies, knowing how to respond, and learning practices to eliminate risks, you can ensure you are able to live a happy and healthy life free of allergic reactions.
A food allergy occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts and destroys the allergen (a harmless food protein). Some of the most common foods that cause reactions are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can take as long as several days (or as short as a few minutes) for the reaction to surface. These symptoms include sneezing, skin irritation, hives, rash, nausea, diarrhea, and/or shortness of breath.
If you or another individual is experiencing an allergic reaction, it is important to inject epinephrine immediately and then call 911. After epinephrine, you can take an antihistamine or, if you have asthma, use your inhaler. Due to the various side effects such as dizziness and nausea, lie flat on your back and raise your legs roughly 12 inches from the ground until help arrives. If your symptoms do not improve you can continue to take epinephrine (leave five minutes between each dose) until there is noticeable improvement.
If you or another individual has a food allergy, it is important to always be prepared. Keep epinephrine on you at all times, especially in public places where you can be exposed to the food that triggers your reaction. You can get epinephrine at your local pharmacy with a prescription from your doctor. If you think you are having a reaction, inject epinephrine immediately (if you are not having a reaction, the medicine will not affect you). It is also important to be conscious of the ingredients in your food in order to completely avoid that ingredient. For example, some specialty coffee drinks use eggs in the foam topping, so individuals allergic to eggs should be aware of this practice and ask the appropriate person for additional information.
In 2018, there is no cure for a food allergy. Understanding your body, eliminating dangerous foods, and recognizing how to respond to a reaction is crucial. Over 15 million people in the United States are living with food allergies, but these practices can help ensure you are consuming the proper foods and eliminating the risks associated with food allergies.
If you are a senior and need an epinephrine prescription or additional health coverage, Medicare Plan Finder is a great way to get information. They can answer any of your questions and help you figure out if you are eligible for any savings. To get in contact with a licensed agent, call 1-844-431-1832.