Food Allergies

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Food Allergies Safety Talk

There are many sources of allergens that can cause an allergic reaction. One of the most common allergens is food. Food allergies are estimated to affect 4 to 6 percent of children and 4 percent of adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, people visit the emergency room about 200,000 times each year because of food allergies. Also, almost 10,000 people stay in the hospital each year because of food allergies. It is important to know what foods may cause an allergic reaction and how to respond to a severe allergic reaction.

Allergic Reactions to Food

The most common food allergies that cause 90% of allergic reaction are milk, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, shellfish, fish, wheat, and eggs. Once the allergen is consumed it usually causes a reaction within two hours, often times the reaction happens within minutes. It is rare for a reaction to occur more than two hours from the point the allergen was consumed.

Allergic reactions to food most often involve the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, the cardiovascular system and the respiratory tract. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, allergic reactions to food may surface in the following ways:

  • Vomiting and/or stomach cramps
  • Hives
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Repetitive cough
  • Shock or circulatory collapse
  • Tight, hoarse throat; trouble swallowing
  • Swelling of the tongue, affecting the ability to talk or breathe
  • Weak pulse
  • Pale or blue coloring of skin
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is the most serious reaction to allergens there is. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening whole-body allergic reaction that can impair your breathing, cause a dramatic drop in your blood pressure, and affect your heart rate. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical treatment, including an injection of epinephrine and a trip to a hospital emergency room. If it isn’t treated properly, anaphylaxis can be fatal.

Best Practices to Avoid Allergic Reactions to Food

It is important to know what foods trigger an allergic reaction. Talk to a doctor or allergy specialist to find out what foods need to be avoided to prevent coming into contact with the allergen. If you are especially sensitive to a certain type of food, let others know so they can help prevent contamination or you coming into contact with the food. Always have an EPI Pen on hand with at least two doses in case of a reoccurrence of reaction after the first dose is administered.

Discussion points:

-Does anyone want to share any allergies that cause a severe reaction?

-Has anyone experience an individual suffering from a severe reaction?

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