Updated: Jun 27, 2020
This month is an exciting time for allergy awareness! During May, there is Celiac Awareness month, Allergy Awareness Week, and Eosinophilic Awareness Week. For today's post, I'm focusing on Food Allergy Awareness Week.
There is a growing awareness of food allergies in the United States due to a large increase in prevalence of food allergies in children. According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT) website, "The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that the prevalence of food allergy in children increased by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011." It is not yet clearly understood what is driving this increase in food allergies, but it does lend the need for widespread awareness!
As a person with multiple food allergies, I'd like to tackle some of the commonly asked questions I get!
Q: Can people really outgrow food allergies?
A: Yes! From the FAACT website: "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that although food allergy is more prevalent in children than adults, many affected children can “outgrow” food allergies with age."
Q: Is there any treatment for food allergies? Do allergy shots fix food allergies?
A: Currently, the only treatment for food allergies is a strict avoidance of the allergen in all sources, including through food, topically, medications, and in severe cases, transmission of particles in the air. The FAACT also adds that, "although food allergy desensitization are being studied, these are not yet reaction." These desensitization studies mostly aim to reduce life-threatening anaphylactic responses more so than allow the food allergic person to normally consume the proven treatments, so strict avoidance is the only way to prevent an allergicallergen.
Q: What are the symptoms of anaphylaxis?
A: Anaphylaxis is generally associated with breathing related symptoms, but the reaction can be full-body. Here are the common symptoms from the FAACT website:
Mouth: swelling of the lips, tongues, or palate (roof of the mouth)
Eyes/Nose: runny nose, stuffy nose, sneezing, watery red eyes, itchy eyes, swollen eyes
Skin: hives or other rash, redness/flushing, itching, swelling
Gut: abdominal pain (a sharp, stabbing pain called colic), vomiting, diarrhea, nausea
Throat: hoarseness, tightening of throat, difficulty swallowing, hacking cough, stridor (a loud, high-pitched sound when breathing in)
Lungs: shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, chest pain, tightness
Mental: anxiety, panic, sense of doom
Circulation/Heart: chest pain, low blood pressure, weak pulse, shock, pale blue color, dizziness or fainting, lethargy (lack of energy)
These symptoms can be life threatening, so it is important to always call 911!
Q: What are the Top 8 allergens?
A: The Top 8 allergens are the most common food allergies. They are: wheat/gluten, dairy, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, and soy.
If you are looking to learn more, please visit the FAACT website at www.foodallergyawareness.org. For this week, they have suggested social media posts to help spread awareness! Additionally, they have training modules for schools, restaurants, and children to help teach them the facts.