RESOURCES FOR THE NEWLY DIAGNOSED
The job of the body's immune system is to identify and destroy germs (such as bacteria and viruses) that can make you sick. A food allergy results when the immune system mistakenly identifies a harmless protein (an allergen), as a threat and attacks it. The eight common food allergies are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. The severity of allergic reactions can range from mild to life-threatening.
If you are new to food allergies, it is normal to feel overwhelmed. There is a lot to learn, and a food allergy diagnosis can change your life. The resources below are designed to help those who are newly-diagnosed manage their food allergies successfully.
Epinephrine: Our Little Hero
Epinephrine is a medication used to treat severe, life-threatening allergic reactions. It is normally injected at the first sign of a serious, allergic reaction. Training devices are available to practice injecting the device; they do not contain the medication and do not have a needle. Before injecting epinephrine for the first time, read the patient information. There are directions for how to use the injection device, and be sure to ask your doctor if you have any questions.
You should inject epinephrine as soon as you suspect that you may be experiencing a serious allergic reaction. Signs of anaphylaxis include wheezing, closing of the airways, hives, itchy skin, swelling, skin redness, stomach pain, faintness, or loss of consciousness. Carry your epinephrine auto-injector everywhere you go in case of an allergic reaction.
Tips for the Newly Diagnosed
CONSULT YOUR ALLERGIST
Allergists are trained to help find the source of your symptoms and help treat it. If you haven't done so already, take an allergy test to discover exactly what you are allergic to. Your allergist will expose you to a small number of potential allergens then observe your reaction. If you are diagnosed with an allergy, ask your allergist about epinephrine. If you are a student, your allergist should fill out school paperwork for emergency administration.
AVOID YOUR ALLERGENS
Know the different names for your allergens. Dairy may be classified as whey or casein on food labels. You may have also noticed precautionary language on food labels. These include statements such as "may contain", "processed in a facility that also processes", or "made on equipment with". It is better to avoid these products because they might contain your allergen.
ALWAYS HAVE YOUR EPINEPHRINE WITH YOU
Make sure that every time you leave the house, you have your epinephrine auto-injector. Though you may feel embarrassed carrying it with you, it is better to be safe than sorry.
LEARN HOW TO ADMINISTER THE EPINEPHRINE AUTO-INJECTOR AND TEACH YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Your friends and family members should learn how to inject epinephrine in case you are unable to administer it. Don't hesitate to use it. It is always better to use it than hesitating to administer it.
READ THE LABELS OF ALL PACKAGED GOODS
Before consuming a product, check all of the ingredients and make sure it doesn't contain any of your allergens. Double check the food label and read all of the ingredients because specific allergens may not be highlighted.