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Food Allergies/Food Allergy Awareness

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March 20, 2019

Amy: Amanda, would you mind telling me more about why you are so passionate about food allergies and food allergy awareness. Do you mind telling our listeners a little about that?

Amanda: Sure, Amy!  Food allergies and food allergy safety are topics that I feel are not discussed enough. I have personally seen someone go into anaphylactic shock and was part of the “team” who was trying to assist and it was scary. What was also scary was that no one knew what to do besides call 911. This should never happen and it could have cost someone their life. This is why I feel very passionate about this topic. Educating yourself on a few easy ways to help a person can easily help save a life.

Amy: That’s very touching, and I certainly understand why you want to help others and help prevent any further tragedies that can be within our control to prevent. Would you mind giving us a little introduction to food allergies?

Amanda: Sure. The top 8 foods that account for 90% of all allergy reactions are eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy. There are two categories of food allergy reactions. You have immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediated and Non-IgE mediated. With an IgE mediated reaction, the body’s immune system makes IgE antibodies. These antibodies can then react with a certain food producing an allergic response. With a non-IgE mediated reactions, other parts of the body’s immune system react to a particular food. This reaction will cause symptoms but does not involve an IgE antibody. It is possible for a person to have both IgE mediated and non IgE mediated food allergies.

Amy: That is very interesting! So when do food allergies usually develop? 

Amanda: Back in 2016, 4.2 million children 18 and under were diagnosed with food allergies within that year alone. Symptoms of food allergies start becoming noticeable in babies and children. That being said, a person can develop a food allergy to a food they have eaten their whole life without a problem so everyone should always be on the lookout!

Amy: Wow, it seems like food allergies affect more people than we thought!  What are some symptoms of food allergies to be on the lookout for?

Amanda: Symptoms can range from mild to severe to anywhere in between. Symptoms can involve the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, the cardiovascular system and the respiratory tract. Some symptoms a person may experience are: vomiting or stomach cramps, hives, shortness of breath, wheezing, repetitive cough, shock or circulatory collapse, tight and hoarse throat with and swallowing difficulty, tongue swelling, weak pulse, pale or blue skin color, or anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is the most severe response to an allergic reaction. It is life threatening and can affect breathing, can cause a big drop in blood pressure and can affect heart rate. It can occur minutes after being exposed to a food allergen and must be treated quickly with an injection of epinephrine. 

Amy: That is great information and very important information for people to be aware of! So if a person is experiencing an allergic reaction to a food, what do you do?

Amanda: If you see someone experiencing an allergic reaction to food, you need to call 911 immediately. Then you should ask if the person has their EpiPen with them and if so then whether or not they need help injecting it. If you need to help someone with their EpiPen injection, it is important to know where and how to inject it. All you have to do is press the EpiPen against the person’s thigh. You should then have the person lie still on their back and loosen any tight clothing and cover them with a blanket. Do not give them anything to drink! If the person vomits or has blood in their mouth, turn them on their side to avoid choking. If they are not breathing, start CPR and continue until the ambulance arrives.

Amy: Thank you so much for all of that great information! We appreciate you sharing all of these very important tips!  Today, we’ve been speaking with MSU dietetic intern,  Amanda Elhilow. I’m Amy Myers thank you for tuning in and  have a great day!
Department: Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion

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