Food Allergies

When the body mistakenly believes a food or foreign substance poses a threat, it develops antibodies to protect against the food the next time it is consumed. Exposure to even the smallest amount of the food product can cause an allergic reaction involving the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. In severe cases, this reaction (anaphylaxis) can lead to death.

While I it’s possible to be allergic to any type of food, 90 percent of all allergic reactions in the United States are caused by eight products: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, etc.), wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. As mentioned above, even trace amounts of these food items can cause a severe allergic reaction.

There is no cure for food allergy, and the only way to prevent a reaction is to avoid the food item at all costs. Pay attention to what you’re eating, especially when you eat out. Most store-bought products are required to list allergy information somewhere on the packaging, but this is still not a guarantee that you will be safe.

When a severe allergic reaction strikes, the most effective lifesaving treatment is early administration of epinephrine (adrenaline). Many people with known food allergies carry around a single dosage of epinephrine (known as an EpiPen) for emergency situations. Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) in many states have epinephrine on hand, but a few states prohibit their EMTs from carrying or administrating such injections.

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