How to manage a food allergy

There are two main types of medications that can be utilized to relieve the symptoms of an allergic reaction to foods. These include antihistamines for mild to moderate allergic reactions and adrenaline for severe allergic reactions or anaphylaxis.

What are antihistamines?

Antihistamines work by blocking the effects of histamine which is responsible for various symptoms of an allergic reaction. Various antihistamines are readily available over-the-counter. It is recommended to stock up on these medications in case of an emergency. The non-drowsy varieties are often the best options.

Some antihistamines are not suitable for children below 2 years old. If a child has food allergy, consult a doctor regarding suitable types of antihistamines to use.

Alcohol must be avoided after using an antihistamine since this can lead to drowsiness.

What is adrenaline?

Food allergy

Always carry the auto-injector at all times or encourage the child to do so if old enough.

Adrenaline functions by constricting the blood vessels to counteract the effects of low blood pressure as well as opening the airways to ease the breathing difficulty.

If a child or individual is at risk for anaphylaxis or has previous episodes of the severe reaction, an auto-injector of adrenaline is required in case of emergencies. Just remember to carefully read the instructions on the packaging regarding the use of the auto-injector.

How to use an auto-injector

Once an individual is suspected of experiencing the symptoms of anaphylaxis, call for emergency assistance right away.

Adults and older children are already trained to administer injections themselves. As for younger children or older children and adults who are too sick, you have to administer a shot.

The commonly used is EpiPen in which you have to remove the safety cap from the injector and place it against the outer thigh and hold down the firing button at the end of the injector. Take note that these injections can be administered through clothing. This sends a needle into the thigh and delivers a shot of adrenaline. Hold down the button for 10 seconds.

If unconscious, check the airways if open and clear and check the breathing and place in a recovery position. This ensures that the individual will not choke on vomit. Position the individual on his/her side and make sure that he/she is supported by one leg and one arm. Open the airway by tilting the head and lifting the chin. In case the breathing or heart stops, perform CPR.

Precautions to remember when owning an auto-injector

  • Always carry the auto-injector at all times or encourage the child to do so if old enough. Multiple injectors should be readily on hand. An emergency bracelet or card can also be given that contains full details of the allergy as well as contact details of the doctor to alert others.
  • Extreme temperatures make adrenaline less effective.
  • Always check the expiration date.
  • In case a child has an auto-injector, it should be changed to an adult dose once the weight of 30 kilos is reached.
  • Do not delay or postpone administering an injection if you think that the child is experiencing the start of anaphylaxis even if the symptoms are mild.

FACT CHECK

For more information on this topic, visit:

https://medlineplus.gov/foodallergy.html

https://acaai.org/allergies/types/food-allergy

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/food-allergy/symptoms-causes/syc-20355095

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