What are the consequences of food allergies?

A child who has a food allergy should always have two epinephrine autoinjectors on hand in case of a serious reaction. An epinephrine autoinjector is a prescription medication that comes in a small, easy-to-carry container. Your doctor will show you how to do this. Always have two autoinjectors nearby in case one doesn't work or your child needs a second dose.

The FALCPA requires that foods or ingredients that contain a major food allergen be specifically labeled with the name of the source of the allergen. A food allergy occurs when the body's immune system, which normally fights infections, sees food as an invader. If you or a member of your family has had an allergic reaction after eating an FDA-regulated food or food product with unclear labels or a possible undeclared allergen, discuss it with your healthcare provider. Current research is looking for ways to reduce sensitivity to food allergies, and there is much hope of finding therapies that control food allergies in the future.

Since May is Food Allergy Action Month, it's especially appropriate to learn how to recognize and manage food allergies, which are the key to preventing serious health consequences. However, if a family has a child with a food allergy, their brothers and sisters have a slightly higher risk of having a food allergy, although that risk is still relatively low. During an oral food exposure, which is carried out under strict medical supervision, the patient is given small amounts of the suspected trigger food in increasing doses over a period of time, followed by a few hours of observation to see if a reaction occurs. Cross-contamination occurs when a food you're not allergic to comes into contact with a food you're allergic to.

Proper food labeling helps allergic consumers identify foods or ingredients to avoid. Department of Agriculture); alcoholic beverages (subject to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Office labeling standards); raw agricultural products; drugs; cosmetics; and most foods sold in retail or food service establishments that are not prepackaged with a label. Currently, for most food allergies, avoiding the food you're allergic to is the only way to protect yourself against a reaction. If you suspect a food allergy, see an allergist, who will review your family and medical history, decide what tests to perform (if any), and use this information to determine if a food allergy exists.

If the test is done, it should only be done with the food you have had a reaction to and not with other “common” foods. A food allergic reaction occurs when the immune system overreacts to a food or substance in a food, identifying it as a hazard and triggering a protective response. In some cases, the allergist will recommend an oral food test, which is considered the most accurate way to diagnose a food allergy. Several factors can influence the severity of anaphylaxis, such as exercise, heat, alcohol, the amount of food eaten, and the way food is prepared and consumed.

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