Each year, 200,000 people in the U.S. require emergency medical attention for allergic reactions related to food. Emergency situations related to allergic reactions to food can be prevented with comprehensive knowledge and understanding of how food allergies work.
Firstly, what is a food allergy? What happens when somebody has an allergic reaction? How do you help yourself or another person experiencing an allergic reaction? Many know the terms and someone who has a food allergy, but not the exact processes that occur. A food allergy is a medical condition in which exposure to certain food leads to a harmful immune response. This response is known as an allergic reaction, where the immune system attacks proteins in the trigger food that are normally harmless. The severity of reactions varies from being mild to potentially life-threatening.
Whether a friend or family member was just diagnosed with a food allergy or you have been living with one for years, carrying the Silent Beacon wearable panic button and following these food allergy safety tips can help keep you safe and healthy.
Common symptoms of an allergic reaction include:
- Hives and/or itchy skin
- Itchy and/or teary eyes
- Gastrointestinal reactions such as diarrhea, vomiting and/or nausea
- Chest tightness, shortness of breath and/or coughing
- Dizziness or fainting
It is important to know the symptoms of allergic reactions to food, especially when they overlap with additional pre-existing conditions. For example, spring allergies to pollen can have similar symptoms like itchy eyes or hives, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can cause gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea. With knowledge of symptoms of allergic reactions to food and other existing health conditions, you can better filter out when you are having an allergic reaction to food exposure.
Unfortunately, allergic reactions to food usually occur quite suddenly, requiring immediate and necessary actions. That’s why Silent Beacon is a life-saving tool for those with severe food allergies.
Silent Beacon is a wearable panic button that calls any number including 911 while sending multiple people your live GPS location. Phones are often out of reach in emergencies, but Silent Beacon can attach to your clothing or bag and calls for help with just a push of the button, no passcode required. If you are by yourself, Silent Beacon will call 911 and your enabled contacts, notifying them of your location so you can get help quickly and safely. The device is also water-resistant, suitable for emergencies at the pool or beach.
Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can be lessened with an epinephrine injector, also known as EpiPen. EpiPen injects epinephrine, a chemical that narrows blood vessels and opens airways in the lungs. If you or your child has a severe food allergy, carry the EpiPen with you at all times.
To use an EpiPen, follow these food allergy safety tips and steps:
- Take the auto-injector out of the tube.
- Hold the auto-injector in your fist with the orange tip pointing downward. (Remember: blue to the sky, orange to the thigh).
- With your other hand, remove the blue safety release by pulling straight up without bending or twisting it.
- Place the orange tip against the middle of the outer thigh (upper leg) at a right angle (perpendicular) to the thigh. For an allergic reaction in children, hold the leg firmly in place while administering an injection.
- Swing and push the auto-injector firmly until it “clicks.” The click signals that the injection has started.
- Hold firmly in place for 3 seconds (count slowly 1, 2, 3), then remove the auto-injector from the thigh.
- Massage the injection area for 10 seconds.
After injecting the EpiPen, seek emergency medical attention for further treatment and observation.
Food allergies in children can be difficult to manage, but there are steps you can take to keep your child safe. Talking to your child who has a food allergy about the condition is important, but additional precautions can be taken to ensure their safety. Food allergy bracelets are an effective way to alert anyone around your child that they have a food allergy. You can buy a bracelet online, or make one yourself to personalize.
These are suitable for fun, social activities for children that present challenges for food allergies, such as summer camps, birthday parties and sleepovers. In case of an allergic reaction, if a child is unable to verbally express their symptoms, an alert bracelet can notify an adult that they are experiencing a reaction. Additionally, food allergy alert bracelets also help children form an awareness of their allergy to advocate for themselves as they get older.
A food allergy is not solely about avoiding the ingestion of a certain food. All exposure to the trigger food can be dangerous, including cross-contact through airborne, surface and food transmission. When one food comes into contact with another food, their proteins mix, which causes each food to contain small amounts of the other food. These amounts are so small that they usually can’t be seen, but it is enough to cause allergic reactions. The process of “cross-contact” is relatively new, making it extra important for food allergy in adults who may not be aware of recent food allergy precautions.
Here’s an example:
You are allergic to wheat, and you are at an ice cream party with only one ice cream scoop. The scoop is used for cookies & cream ice cream which has Oreos that contain wheat. You then use that scoop for vanilla ice cream. Even though you don’t eat the cookies & cream ice cream, cross-contact occurs because the scoop contains food proteins from the Oreo cookies.
Through becoming familiar with how cross-contact works, you can also understand elements of food safety awareness that reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses.
Food allergies are a serious medical condition to always monitor, but are manageable when you know the symptoms of allergic reactions and understand cross-contact. To assist in emergency situations, carry Silent Beacon with you and have children wear allergy alert bracelets that can prompt EpiPen usage. Always look out for yourself or others to prevent allergic reactions. Follow the above food allergy safety tips to be safe and healthy in an emergency.