Life Threatening Allergies to Food

As many as 12 million Americans, or 4% of the US population, have food allergies. The foods that most commonly cause a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) include: peanuts (the main source of anaphylaxis in children), tree nuts (such as walnuts, pecans and cashews), shellfish (such as shrimp and lobster, — the main cause of anaphylaxis in adults), fish, cow’s milk, eggs, and soy.

The severity of a food-triggered life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) depends on a number of factors — the amount eaten, the food form (cooked, raw or processed) and the co-ingestion of other foods. Other variables include the person’s age, the sensitivity at the time of ingestion (for example, children are less likely to suffer a severe allergic reaction to milk and egg as they get older), how fast the food is absorbed by the body, and whether the person has another life-threatening condition, such as severe or uncontrolled asthma.

If you or your child has a food allergy, you’ll need to steer clear of triggers. This means careful menu planning and reading food labels for alternative ingredient names to make sure you are aware of any “hidden” triggers.

It’s nearly impossible to avoid hidden triggers. In particular, children with allergies may inadvertently eat a trigger food at school. In this case, it’s important that the child and his or her family, caregivers and teachers know how to recognize the signs and symptoms of a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) and know what to do in the event of a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). If you know you have a life-threatening allergic reaction, it is important to have a professional-prescribed epinephrine Auto-Injector to treat the reaction immediately, then promptly call 911 and seek immediate medical attention.

What is a Life-Threatening Allergic Reaction (Anaphylaxis)?

Anaphylaxis (a-na-fi-LAX-is) is a life-threatening allergic reaction that can occur quickly (as fast as within a couple of minutes). Symptoms of a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) vary, but can include hives, itching, flushing, and swelling of the lips, tongue, and roof of mouth. The airway is often affected, resulting in tightness of the throat, chest tightness and difficulty breathing. These reactions can also be accompanied by chest pain, low blood pressure, dizziness and headaches. A life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) can be caused by a number of triggers, including but not limited to certain foods, including tree nuts.

Make sure you speak with your health care professional about how to identify the signs and symptoms of a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). If you, your child or someone you’re caring for shows signs or symptoms of a life-threatening allergic reaction, seek immediate 911 emergency medical attention. If you suspect or know ahead of time, it is important to be pro-active about the safety and health of your loved ones. There are professional-prescribed epinephrine pens that you can have to treat a life-threatening allergy at the first signs of a allergic reaction.