Food Allergy Awareness Week: What You Need to Know

May 16, 2014

Food allergies haven't' been making news lately, but that doesn't mean they should be forgotten. Here are the food allergy basics you need to know...

May 11 - 17 is Food Allergy Awareness Week! And SupermarketGuru wanted to help bring awareness to the issue. According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team, more than 15 million people suffer from food allergies, including 6 million children. Food allergies are nothing to be ashamed of, and especially for teens who may think it "un-cool" to discuss something this mundane to their friends, it is critical that we raise the level of awareness without attaching a social stigma. The key is communication and knowledge!

The basics:
Eight food groups account for 90 percent of allergic reactions, this includes peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, pecans, etc.), fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, soy, and wheat. There are a myriad of other things that can cause allergies for some people, including food additives such as sulfites.

Did You Know?
A food allergy is an immune system response to a food the body mistakenly believes is harmful.

When a person with food allergy eats the food, his or her immune system releases massive amounts of chemicals, including histamine, that trigger a cascade of symptoms that can affect the respiratory system, the gastrointestinal tract, the skin, and/or the cardiovascular system.

The prevalence of food allergies appears to be increasing among children under the age of 18, that is 2 students in every classroom.

Although food allergy desensitizations are being studied, these are not yet proven treatments, so strict avoidance is the only way to prevent an allergic reaction.

Trace amounts of an allergen can trigger an allergic reaction in some individuals.

Unfortunately, food allergy deaths do occur, even among persons with a history of mild reactions in the past.  9-1-1 must ALWAYS be called with every anaphylactic reaction.

What is anaphylaxis? It is a serious allergic reaction that comes on quickly and has the potential to become life-threatening. Symptoms can develop rapidly after exposure to an allergen, often within minutes and usually within 30 minutes. However, it can take up to 2 hours for symptoms to occur after exposure to a food allergen.

Sometimes a second round (or “phase”) of allergic reactions can occur after the initial anaphylactic reaction. This is called “biphasic anaphylaxis”. A second reaction may happen as early as an hour after the first reaction or as long as 72 hours later (the average is 10 hours later) and can be less severe, as severe, or even more severe than the initial reaction and must be treated immediately with epinephrine (adrenaline).

Information was brought to you by the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team.  FAACT's mission is to educate, advocate, and raise awareness for all individuals and families affected by food allergies and life-threatening anaphylaxis. FAACT is also your voice for food allergy awareness.