Dealing with peanut allergies is very problematic for both adults and children. Parents of children with an allergy to peanuts are always on edge and nervous that their child may come in contact with peanuts and suffer a life threatening reaction. Listed below are some tips that can help peanut allergy sufferers and parents of children with allergies to peanuts cope with the day to day uncertainty that this food allergy condition can bring. These tips are from a parent that has a child with a severe life threatening peanut allergy. This allergy was discovered when the child was 10 months of age and therefore how the peanut allergy needed to be dealt with during all stages of the child’s life growing up were experienced. It is hoped that these tips will help bring some peace of mind to parents of peanut allergy sufferers and to any other allergic to peanuts sufferers.
Note that because peanut allergies and other types of food allergies can be life threatening, proper testing and consultation with an allergist is required. If there is any uncertainty about information that is presented please consult with your family physician or allergist.
Hands Away From Mouth and Face
It is important to teach young child to keep their fingers and hands away from their face, nose, and mouth. This is very difficult to do, but will help prevent accidental exposure to peanut products, especially something sticky such as peanut butter.
Before eating and after being in public places it is important to ensure that hands are washed well with soap and water. Once again, it is possible that the hands have come into contact with peanut products when out in public.
Regular Visits to the Allergist
Individuals with allergies to peanuts should visit the allergist regularly to assess the status of their allergy. The allergist generally indicates how often testing should be before.
Inform the School
When the allergic child is starting school or is with a daycare provider or babysitter, meet with the principal or people in charge to discuss your child’s allergy to peanuts and determine what steps the school or institution will put in place to ensure that your child is safe. This should be reconfirmed at the beginning of each school year. Also, whenever a school excursion is planned, contact should be made with the teachers accompanying the students in order to discuss your child’s nut allergy and the steps that need to be followed to ensure that the child is safe.
For those with severe peanut allergies, Epipens and Epipens Jrs. (for younger individuals) should be everywhere. They do expire and should be kept current and stored as recommended. Check them regularly to ensure they have not expired and are not discolored and do not appear damaged.
First of all, when the child is old enough, he/she should be taught how to use the Epipen. You can use old expired Epipens on an apple to demonstrate how it works. Please be careful not to inject yourself or anyone else.
When the child is in school, an Epipen should be given to the school with complete instructions on its use. Most schools nowadays are quite familiar with the allergy to peanuts problem and have an Epipen procedure in place. If the school does not have one, then get involved to ensure your child and other children with similar allergies will be safe. A second Epipen should travel with the child on a daily basis, and a third one should remain in the home.
When in locations where a hospital or medical assistance cannot be reached within twenty minutes, then the allergic individual should have two Epipens available. When travelling abroad, on vacation for example, it is a good idea to have three Epipens travel with the allergic person in the carry-on luggage.
If an Epipen is ever used on an individual, then that person must be brought to a hospital immediately.
An antihistamine like Benadryl is useful to have at the school and at home to deal with some of the allergic reaction symptoms from peanut allergies and other allergies.
Medical Alert Type Bracelet
It is a good idea for individuals with severe allergies to peanuts, other food allergies, drug allergies, etc., to carry a Medical Alert type bracelet or necklace to inform others that they have a serious allergy when they are not able to speak for themselves.
Stay Away From Nuts
Individuals with peanut type allergies should stay away from all nuts, even though they may not be allergic to those nuts. There is often much cross-contamination between the different types of nuts.
Stay Away From Store Baked Goods
Baked goods are notorious for getting cross-contaminated with peanuts or other nuts. Unless the bakery is certified nut free, then a person with a peanut allergy should not consume store bought baked goods.
Read Those Labels
Many food product labels have a “May Contain” section in the fine print. Often this is where you find that the product may be contaminated with peanuts. If a product label states “May Contain Peanuts or Peanut Products or Nuts”, then it should not be eaten by the person with the allergy.
Always check and double check with the cook and serving staff to ensure that the food is safe for the allergic individual. Certain restaurants should be avoided, such as Asian restaurants if the individual has allergies to peanuts.
Eating at All-Inclusive Resorts
This is a tricky one for people with allergies to peanuts or other types of severe food allergies. The first step is to translate the allergy information in the appropriate language. Send an email to the resort with the note indicating the situation and what can be done. Once at the resort meet with customer relations to further verify what can be done. Carry a translated note at each dinner service indicating what the allergy is and the severity. Show the note to the head host who will often then get you to speak to the head chef. The allergic individual should use their own utensils to put food on their plate and should stick with basic foods that have little chance of being contaminated with the allergen.
Subscribe to Your Country’s Food Inspection Agency Report Lists
Many countries have email feeds that they send out to subscribers indicating foods that have problems such as undeclared cross-contamination with allergens. This will help to identify foods that have not been labeled properly and that you may have bought.
To add to this tips list or share your peanut or other food allergy story please see below.
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