Millions of people around the world suffer from food allergies. Allergic reactions range from minor symptoms to potentially life-threatening reactions. Food allergies develop when the body's immune system produces an abnormal response to specific foods. Since there is no cure, those with food allergies must be vigilant by ensuring that they stay away from allergens and treat the allergy as soon as it occurs. Here are a few easy-to-understand tips to help you cope with your food allergy.
Understand what the food label means
Everyone with a food allergy is always keen about reading food labels. You always try to read through the ingredients section of each product, especially the processed products, before you can throw it in the shopping trolley. That is commendable, but it's not enough. There is a chance of misunderstanding food labels that read "may contain" and "manufactured in a facility that also processes". If you are prone to food allergic reactions, you should avoid buying food products with such unclear labels. If you are unsure about the ingredients indicated on the food product, do not use it. Another category of products to avoid are those without ingredient labels such as cakes and cookies.
Cross-contact happens when an allergen is directly or indirectly introduced to non-allergic food. The risk of cross-contact is the reason behind "processed in the same facility as" and "may contain" warning labels. Cross-contact can also occur in your kitchen when you fail to take proper precautions in separating safe foods from allergens. There are several ways in which you can avoid cross-contact in your kitchen, including:
Clear out the allergen by purging your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator of all the food that you do not eat.
Keep your cooking apparatus clean, including the oven, stovetop, cookware, and cooking utensils with soap and water.
Separate working areas when preparing food. If you are sharing your kitchen with family members or roommates, you might want to set aside for yourself a separate food preparation area and different cookware as well. This will ensure that your food does not come into contact with allergens.
Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and plenty of water after handling allergic food, like when preparing food for your family.
Know your allergic symptoms
It is crucial for you to learn how to identify signs and symptoms of allergic reactions of your food allergy. Which foods cause your allergy? How do the symptoms manifest? And, how long after eating the food do the symptoms appear? For instance, there are 5 symptoms you might have a leaky gut.These symptoms include:
Chronic bloating, constipation or diarrhea
Autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
Joint pain or arthritis
Memory loss, brain fog, headaches
Poor immune system
Put in place an emergency action plan
It is recommended that you inform your family members, classmates, workmates, playmates, caregiver, and everyone you interact with about your food allergy. Let them know the steps they should take should you experience an allergic reaction in their presence. You may get a written management plan from your doctor that you can share with others. You can also find an allergy emergency action plan online.
Always carry your injectable epinephrine pen
If you are suffering from severe allergic reactions, your doctor is likely to prescribe an injectable epinephrine pen. When injected, epinephrine can counter low blood pressure, impaired breathing, and throat swelling in a matter of minutes. Make sure that you know how to use the pen – your doctor can help you with this. It is also essential that the people you come into contact with know how to use an injectable pen so that they can get you quick recovery in the event of an allergic reaction. It is advisable to carry two auto-injectors in case one malfunctions. Routinely check its expiration date.
By Paisley Hansen
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