Following our recent social media challenge and with some great input from the community, we have created a simple guide to help you navigate your way around allergies, and make it as simple as learning your ABCs.
Here is a snapshot summary of the key topics we discussed below.
According to the #NHS this is the body's #immune #system reacting unusually to specific foods. Did you know 8% of children in the UK suffer from food allergies, peaking at adolescence and outside the home?
C is for #crustacean, listed on the #UKTOP14allergens. Crustaceans are listed within #shellfish, and includes prawns, crabs and lobsters. Another top 14 allergen is #celery . C also stands for #CONVERSATION, as there needs to be greater awareness around allergies to help spread #allergyawareness and keep the #conversation going.
D is for #Dietician, these integral team members are so crucial in the #management of #food allergies. They work closely with Allergy teams to ensure that #patients are able to adapt their #diets to ensure their #nutritional needs are met so that they may continue to be #HealthyAtHome.
E stands for #Egg - one of the most common food allergies on the #Top14 allergens list. Did you know that egg allergies are also commonly linked to #eczema, so under #medical advice elimination may alleviate symptoms.
Luckily there are alternative ingredients to ensure that baking is #free from egg - these include mashed banana (as seen above), applesauce and chia seeds mixed with water to create an egg replacer recipe.
F is for Fish allergies which are in the top 7 allergens list and most children will not outgrow it. Cooking or #fryingfish at high heat does not kill or eliminate the allergen - and risk of cross contamination remains. Products to avoid if you have a fish allergy, Caesar salad dressing, Omega 3 supplements, Gelatine. SURPRISING sauces with fish include #soysauce, #Worcestershire sauce
There is much talk around non Coeliac gluten sensitivity known as gluten intolerance and Coeliac disease, with much needed research and diagnosis testing required to demystify the allergies and intolerances around this.
H stands for hives - one of the first immediate visual allergic reactions, occurring immediately after exposure and ingestion and are #immunoglobulinE (IgE) mediated. This is when your #immune #system reacts strangely to certain foods. Hives are raised red bumps on the skin and although seen to be a #mildreaction can be accompanied by other symptoms and can be treated with #antihistamines. It is important to recognise when a mild reaction is evolving and developing to #anaphylaxis and to seek emergency help ASAP and treat with an auto adrenaline injector (AAI), prescribed under medical supervision and advice. If in doubt AAI!
H also stands for#hayfever- which seems to be common in people who also suffer from food allergies. Did you know that even though younger children can develop hay fever symptoms from early on, diagnosis is more recognised after the age of 4, together with other respiratory conditions like#asthma
I is for immunology When allergic reactions take place, the body translates allergens as dangerous and immediately goes on the #attack. 🎯 The cells of the #immune system release potent chemicals like #histamine, causing symptoms like inflammation. Immunology strives to understand what happens to the body during an allergic episode and exact causes. This knowledge and insight strives for better methods of #diagnosing, preventing and controlling allergic diseases.
J Is for JEXT - a UK brand of #adrenalineautoinjector (AAI) used to treat #anaphylaxis. Many people refer to it as an Epi-Pen; when in fact JEXT and Epi-Pen are both brands of #AAI available in the UK. JEXT have very helpful and user friendly training materials to teach how to administer an AAI and a great expiry alert service to register to. Visit adults.jext.co.uk or kids.jext.co.uk
1. Familiarise yourself and practice how to administer an AA1
2. Teach those who are likely to be with you or your child during a reaction
3. Undertake monthly checks to ensure the serum in the AAI is not contaminated or not fit for use - i.e. clouded over
4. Register for expiry alerts and order replacements at least 4 weeks in advance.
K is for K.I.S.S.I.NG. A kiss is just a kiss, but not for those with food allergies as saliva can carry the residual protein for hours after consumption. The most harmless peck can even lead to anaphylaxis as reported by paediatric and adult A&E staff. So here's our tip as people start to reunite with the lockdown restrictions easing.
1. Avoid eating or drinking the allergen if possible if you know you're going to be in physical contact with someone that suffers with food allergies
2. Brush your teeth and possible mouthwash as well
3. Wait a few hours - recommended is 4 before puckering up
4. Let the person know beforehand so that the choice is theirs
If in doubt - don't.
L is for ladder challenge. The Ladder Challenge is a STOP & GO 🔴✅ TRAFFIC LIGHT SYSTEM🚦food #oral challenges at home progressing through various stages from #baked to #raw under #Dietician & #Allergist guidance. Mainly #milk, #egg #wheat and #soya.
It is important that at the first sign of an #Allergic reaction to Stop🛑 Pause⏸️ Record🗒️ Report👩💼. That stage is not passed or safe to progress at that point in time.
Under #medical advice the ladder challenge may or may not be repeated after a break once the allergen has left the system; dependent on #symptoms & may lead to other routes of testing including #skinprick & #bloodtests. Failing a ladder challenge is not a failure! - This provides valuable#insight and knowledge for parents, patients and medical teams.
M is for Milk - Of the 8% of UK children with food allergies, #milk allergies affect 3-6% of infants and young children in the UK!
#MilkAllergy vs #LactoseIntolerance are often confused. Whilst very uncomfortable - lactose intolerance is an inability to digest #lactose (milk sugar) due to low lactase levels - the enzyme for digesting the sugars and can cause bloating and other irritating symptoms.
Milk allergy on the other hand can be #lifethreatening and require immediate emergency treatment #alwayscarry2 and as common as #CMPA- Cows Milk Protein Allergy - but is often misdiagnosed or can be a longwinded route to diagnosis - as early symptoms are common of other ailments, so speak to your GP as early as possible if you suspect your child has CMPA symptoms.
Foods to avoid with a #milkallergy:
Milk, milk powder and drinks
Butter & Margarine
Yogurt , Cream & Ice cream
#Alwaysreadthelabel - these are some other names you may not recognise on packaging which contains milk Casein • Caseinates •Hydrolysed casein • Skimmed milk • Skimmed milk powder • Milk solids • Non-fat milk • Whey • Whey syrup sweetener • Milk sugar solids • Lactose
Around 20% children with peanut allergies are known to outgrow it. There is much research and testing around desensitizing children to peanuts, but so much more to go. Peanut allergies are thought to be through oil surface contact, so it is important to wipe down surfaces when in public areas like traytables on planes.
O is for occupational allergens - These are allergens that may cause exposure at the workplace. Most common allergens would be found in flour dust, animal skin or rubber latex; paints and adhesives, nickel and cobalt; and preserving agents in cosmetics.
P is for #FoodAllergy #Parents who care for 8% of UK #children and are the link between #patient and physician who suddenly tap into new or buried #skills to protect their children - hypervigilence, time management, planning, #creativity, patience, empathy to name a few.
Q is for #Questions. It can be overwhelming when starting the journey of food allergies and as new milestones and stages are reached in life. For many it can be more questions than answers - what caused the allergies? Did I do something wrong? What is the right path to diagnosis? We have a diagnosis now what? Have I asked my hands? What was the last thing I used this knife for? What are those bumps? Where is the allergen menu? Why us?
R is for #RECALL. This is when a product needs to be #withdrawn from the shelves immediately and consumers need to return it due to undeclared, missing or incorrect #allergylabelling, which can pose an allergy #risk to #consumers.💡Sign up to food.gov.uk #FSA #AllergyAlerts to be the first to know about a recall.✍️✍️
The school's policy needs to cover all aspects of your child's #welfare in relation to their allergies and #protecting them at all times including #mealtimes, #learning, #physical environment and #emergency care plan.
For many food allergy parents, #lockdown has created a safety #bubble for their children as they have been protected from external influences that could cause allergic #reaction. So there may be some level of #anxiety as we return to our own schools or perhaps it will be a new school come September.
For those impacted families, what is your confidence/anxiety barometer reading? Have you researched and discussed your #SchoolsPolicy? Contact your school directly to discuss and review that the policies are still relevant and protect your child in the new norma and that all appropriate staff are trained and aware.
As part of your prep, ensure that you have ordered your emergency medication in plenty time to keep at the school for ICE.
Need more guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-food-standards-resources-for-schools/allergy-guidance-for-schools Are you informed about your schools policy for food allergies?
Skin prick tests involve #lancing a small amount of the allergen #sample numbered on a large surface area of skin, normally the arm for around 15 minutes. Although the test is painless, some itching, redness and swelling indicate a #positivereaction; with the size of reaction indicating a higher or lower level of allergy. Due to the smallest risk of #anaphylaxis from #exposure, this test is usually performed at a #hospital or clinical environment.
Read this interesting article about the innovative techniques being pioneered in the US for peanut allergy testing. Will be interesting to see how diagnostics evolve in the next 5 years.
U stands for Ummmmmm🧐 (the word most commonly used when trying to peruse an allergen friendly #menu in search of a suitable dish...perhaps U can help us fill the blanks.
V stands for #Vegan. Ever had someone say when explaining your #allergies - oh so you can eat vegan then?! There is a common assumption that vegan dishes are allergen friendly. False. The rise in veganism and global movements like Veganary have been so helpful in many people's food allergy journeys. Exciting dishes provide great sources of nutrition and options not previously available thanks to a rise in profile and expanding vegan brands and menus.
Whilst #Veganism is helpful & #allergy #friendly to an extent, not all vegan #foods are #safe for allergies. Take #nuts for example, if you followed our previous posts on nuts being a major and common allergen in the UK. Even Vegan labelling on products are not to be assumed as safe from allergens due to #cross #contamination and certain #ingredients. For #FSA & #FDF clarification on #food #labelling read https://www.fdf.org.uk/corporate_pubs/fdf-guidance-allergen-free-and-vegan-claims.pdf
W is for #Weaning. This period can be both exciting but also nerve wracking when navigating weaning and #food #allergies - especially if your child has a suspected or confirmed #diagnosis or there is a #family #history of allergies. It is best to discuss your weaning plan and concerns with your healthcare team, be it your GP, Allergy Team and Dietician before embarking on this milestone so that you are forearmed and have an agreed plan which may be to eliminate certain foods or test tolerances.
Ensure you have the correct information and knowledge to deal with and get ICE help in the event of an allergic reaction & trust your instincts. Two helpful #guides on this topic:
Y stands for #YOU - and the #role you play in food allergies, either as a #sufferer, #parent or carer, relative, #friend, #business, #school or #healthcare professional. There is always more - more #awareness, #training, #support, #connections, options and #alternatives. Where do you stand and what #positive change are you going to effect to support people with allergies in your #community?
Z - represents the ZZZZes that we hopefully have not caused by the end of this alphabet challenge - it has been a marathon, but such a scenic one with great support along the way.