It’s rare that you hear of someone dying from food allergies, but when it happens, it usually reaches national news. Why? Because food is something we eat every day – several times a day – and everyone should be aware of the dangers of food allergies. Some foods such as peanuts contain very strong allergens that are in the food and released into the air as well. That’s why someone with severe food allergies must be extremely careful where and how they dine out.
Food Allergy Deaths
There are approximately 150 deaths related to food allergies in the United States each year. Food allergies are responsible for more deaths than insect bites as well as reactions to medicines.
Some food allergy deaths could have been prevented if proper medical attention was given when the allergic reaction occurred. Unfortunately, someone who is dining out or eating at home alone can have an allergic reaction without anyone around who knows the cause. With severe reactions, the person may not be able to speak or move at all. When the paramedics arrive, they do not know how to treat the patient.
Non-deadly allergies can still cause unpleasant symptoms such as cramps, light-headedness, itching and rash, hives, headaches, swelling lips, tingling mouth, shortness of breath and wheezing. Even these symptoms can seem urgent when they’re really not, so emergency personnel might attend to someone with these symptoms as well.
Keeping in Touch with Your Food Allergies
Prevention is always best with food allergies, especially dangerous ones. When dining out, ask the waiter if the food you’re about to order contains the ingredients that might cause an allergic reaction. Also, check food labels and labels on drinks and condiments while grocery shopping to be sure it’s safe before eating. Keep a list of the foods you’re allergic to with you in your wallet or purse as a reminder when dining out.
If you’ve already experienced a severe food allergy attack, ask your physician about a self-injecting epinephrine to keep with you for emergencies. This could save your life!
Help Medical Emergency Workers do their Jobs
Another way to be prepared is to have all your medical emergency information with you in one place along with your identification. Keep this information in your purse or wallet, so emergency workers will know how to diagnose and treat you when they arrive.
Special wallets are now available called Medical Alert Wallets that have all your medical information and allergy details inside. Emergency workers easily recognize these because each Medical Alert Wallet has a “Medic Alert” symbol and a free Medical Information Card with each wallet. They come in nylon, vinyl, and leather. Several styles are available such as bi-fold, trifold, and neck wallets. Families can use these for every member of the family so everyone will be protected if a food allergy reaction or any other medical emergency occurs.
With a little preparation and a Medic Alert Wallet, you’ll have peace of mind when dining out or eating at a friend’s house. Food allergies do not have to control your life!