8 Food Allergy MYTHS

(1) Myth: In the United States, food labels must list every ingredient.

Reality: Many of the less common allergens can hide behind seemingly “safe” ingredients on a label.

For example, “natural flavors”, natural “color”, “spices”, or healthy-sounding “hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)” or “hyrolyzed plant protein (HPP)”.

Become educated on all the terms that are commonly used to indicate the presence of your specific allergen.

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(2) Myth: If a reaction starts mildly, with “only hives” or sneezing or runny nose or itchy eyes, it will only be a mild reaction.

Reality: There is no way to predict the severity or course of a reaction. A life-threatening anaphylactic reaction may develop slowly over the course of several hours. Or it may develop acutely, very rapidly. There is no way to predict. Have an Allergy Action Plan.

Don’t have a plan? Visit the site (http://www.foodallergy.org/ ), and search for “Food Allergy Action Plan” to download a free, useful pdf file.

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(3) Myth: Peanut allergy is the most common food allergy in the US.

Reality: Milk and egg are the most common food allergies in children. Fish and shellfish are the most common food allergies in adults.

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(4) Myth: Peanut allergy is the only really dangerous food allergy.

Reality: It is actually possible to develop dangerous allergies to ANY food. Life-threatening allergies to many different foods are known. Here in the US, peanut and tree nut allergies do trigger the most frequently fatal and near-fatal reactions.

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(5) Myth: Our Epi-Pen has expired. We can’t use it.

Reality: In the event of an emergency, it may be wise to use the expired Epi-Pen if it is all you have, as long as the medication is not discolored. Epinephrine does lose potency after the expiration date, but even a little activity may make the difference between life and death during an anaphylactic reaction.

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(6) Myth: Epinephrine stops all allergic reactions. We can wait and see whether we really need the epinephrine.

Reality: In an anaphylactic reaction, seconds can count. Epinephrine should be used as prescribed by your physician if it is needed. A delay in administering epinephrine can be dangerous. If it is indicated, do not delay.

After the epinephrine is administered, ALWAYS take the patient to the closest emergency medical facility. The course of an anaphylactic reaction cannot be predicted with any certainty. A second phase of the reaction can prove fatal if not treated quickly.

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(7) Myth: There is a cure for food allergies.

Reality: There are many remedies, usually involving treatment of symptoms, but there is no proven cure that is widely available.

Accurate identification of the culprit food responsible, and strict avoidance of the food allergen is the only way of preventing an allergic reaction at this time.

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(8) Myth: My child only has a certain kind of reaction, so that is how he/she will always react.

Reality: Reactions can vary, and sometimes can worsen over time. Even if your child typically reacts in a certain way, be aware of all potential symptoms of anaphylaxis. However, in many cases children outgrow their early food allergies.

It is wise to consult your child’s doctor regularly to determine your child’s allergic status and to determine whether he or she has in fact outgrown their early reactions to foods.

How to use this information?

If you believe that you or your child has a food allergy, or food intolerance, see an Allergist.

For your child, a Pediatric Allergist will be best.  Their office and clinic staff will be dedicated to the care of children.  They will be more familiar with the common allergic reactions in children, how to test for allergies in children, and how to treat allergies in children.

I want to thank Gina Clowes for a similar post, “10 Food Allergy Myths”, as the starting point for this post:  http://www.healthcentral.com/allergy/c/48542/101241/10-allergy-myths

I want to thank Dr. Joneja for reviewing these  Food Allergy Myths.  Her comments are greatly appreciated.

Check out Dr. Janice Joneja’s Dealing with Food Allergies in Babies and Children, for less than $20 at Amazon (transparency: I am an Amazon affiliate). Dr. Joneja also has a more general, and very practical guide, Dealing with Food Allergies: A Practical Guide to Detecting Culprit Foods, and Eating a Healthy, Enjoyable Diet, about $16, also at Amazon.

Also check out Dr. Joneja’s site: http://www.allergynutrition.com/index.php. It is an outstanding resource for those with food allergies and intolerances.

Soon, I will post several interviews that I have recorded with Dr. Janice Joneja for free podcast download.  She has over 30 years experience with food allergies and food intolerance.  She approached this field from the perspective of a scientist (PhD in Immunology and Microbiology), but also from the view of a mother with a very sick child – asthma, eczema, and food allergies.  I will introduce her more fully soon, and will post the recordings for free podcast download.  They are a wealth of information!

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