Food Allergies and Allergic Reactions. When and How to Use an Epi -Pen. What is a food allergy. Food allergy is an abnormal response to a food, triggered by the body’s immune system.
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Food Allergies and Allergic Reactions When and How to Use an Epi-Pen
What is a food allergy • Food allergy is an abnormal response to a food, triggered by the body’s immune system. • The response may be mild, or in rare cases it can be associated with the severe and life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis.
What Is An Allergic Reaction to Food? • A food allergy occurs when the immune system responds to a harmless food as if it were a threat. The first time a person with food allergy is exposed to the food, no symptoms occur. But the body has been now been primed, and when the person eats the food again, an allergic response occurs. • An allergic reaction to food usually takes place within a few minutes to several hours after exposure to the allergen. The process of eating and digesting food and the location of immune cells involved in the allergic reaction process both affect the timing and location of the reaction.
Prevalence • It is estimated that six million children have food allergies in the US • As many as one in four had their first reaction at school • food allergies affect nearly 11 million people in the United States • School is a high-risk setting for accidental exposure to food allergens
Serious Allergic Reactions • Kids with severe allergies can be at risk for a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis • Anaphylaxis can trigger symptoms in any of four body systems: skin, gastrointestinal, respiratory, and cardiovascular • An allergic reaction might be a medical emergency if it happens in 2 or more of these systems (ex. Hives and vomiting)
Signs of an Allergic Reaction • Mouth: itching, tingling or swelling of the lips, tongue, or mouth • Throat: itching and/or a sense of tightness in the throat, hoarseness, hacking cough, trouble speaking • Skin: redness, hives, itchy rash, and/or swelling of the face or extremities • Gut: nausea, abdominal cramps/pain, vomiting, and/or diarrhea • Lung: shortness of breath, repetitive coughing, and/or wheezing • Heart: pale, blue, dizzy, confused, very fast heartbeat or pulse, and/or “passing out”
Ways children might express an allergic reaction • Screaming or crying • Pulling at their tongues • Complaints of “burning my lips or tongue” • Complaints of “itchy, scratchy” lips, tongue, throat • “there’s something stuck in my throat • “my mouth feels funny”, “I feel funny”
Treatment of mild symptoms • Mild symptoms include: Itchiness, skin redness, slight swelling, stuffy/runny nose, sneezing, itchy/watery eyes, red bumps (hives) anywhere on the body • Treat with oral antihistamines such as benadryl
Anaphylaxis symptoms and Treatment • Anaphylaxis requires immediate treatment • It can get bad very quickly • Symptoms include: Swelling of the mouth or tongue, difficulty swallowing or speaking, wheezing or difficulty breathing, Abdominal pain/nausea/vomiting/or diarrhea, dizziness or fainting • If the symptoms are severe, use an epinephrine pen (epi-pen) and call 911 • Epinephrine enters the bloodstream and works quickly against serious allergy symptoms
EpiPen® and EpiPen® Jr. Directions • Pull off Blue activation cap (pull straight off. Do not twist) • Hold Orange tip near outer thigh (always apply to thigh) • Swing and jab firmly into outer thigh until Auto-Injector mechanism functions. Hold in place and count to 10. Remove the EpiPen® unit and massage the injection area for 10 seconds.
Prevention • Have kids avoid substances that are known triggers for their allergic reactions • Keep oral antihistamines such as benadryl on hand • In case of severe allergy, have epi pen available and be sure that those caring for the child know how to use it!
How to use an Epi-pen • Nationwide ChildrensHospital • www.youtube.com/watch?v=EN83hen4D-Y
Emergency Action Plans • www.mononahgrove.org • www.foodallergy.org/files/FAAP.pdf • www.isbe.net/nutrition/pdf/food_allergy_emer_action_plan.pdf