Living with food allergies can be a legitimately challenging path to navigate for many people. According to the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, food allergies affect about 4% of adults and 5% of children in the US. A food allergy is the result of a person’s immune system triggering an abnormal response to food. Although food allergy symptoms can be very minor for some allergies, others can lead to potentially life-endangering responses like anaphylaxis, a condition that impairs breathing and sends the body into a state of shock.
While it’s true that there is currently no cure for food allergies, there are definite measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of serious health consequences if an allergic reaction does occur. Our Family Practice Center healthcare providers recommend taking the following steps to effectively manage food allergies:
- Be aware that eight foods account for roughly 90% of all food allergy reactions in the US. These foods include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, shellfish, and fish.
- If you suspect that you might have a food allergy, go to an expert and get tested. During a food allergy test, the provider will expose an area of the patient’s skin to a food that they may be allergic to. If the skin reacts to the allergen, typically in the form of becoming red and itchy, it may indicate an allergy.
- Read food labels carefully. While this might seem obvious, it’s not always as simple as it seems. It can be easy to miss food labels that read “manufactured on shared equipment” or “may contain” certain allergens. It’s important for people with food allergies to stay away from food products with these labels to prevent a potential allergic reaction.
- Be careful when cooking, especially if everyone in the household isn’t following the same allergen-free diet. Cleaning counters thoroughly and having two sets of cooking and eating utensils, one exclusively for the allergic person, can help prevent cross-contamination in regards to allergies.
- Everyone who knows they have a food allergy should have an emergency plan in the case of a serious reaction. This can include steps like having medication like an EpiPen on hand when you eat out and wearing a medical ID bracelet with relevant information about your food allergy.
For people who experience food allergies, knowledge can be an incredibly powerful and important tool. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact Family Practice Center. We are open for morning walk-in appointments and telemedicine visits at our Atlanta and Alpharetta locations. Don’t forget that you can follow us on Facebook for additional health tips, news, and much more.