Stop the Spread of Food Allergy Confusion

Do you or someone you know have a food allergy?  Chances are you do.  Food allergies affect about 15 million individuals in the U.S. Food allergies cannot be taken lightly and knowing how to manage your food allergy or provide assistance when needed could save a life.

We are celebrating Food Allergy Awareness Week by sharing a few tips from our friend, health provider and food allergen educator, Humaira Robinson, RN.humaira robinson

Robinson is the clinical program coordinator of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C. Since 2011, she has conducted clinical research on basic food allergy knowledge, anaphylaxis management, and attitudes among D.C. school nurses. With a degree from Old Dominion University and a Master’s in nursing leadership and management from George Washington University, Robinson sits on the Medical Advisory Board of Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT).

In addition to performing clinical trials, educating patients and professional leadership roles with AAAAI, Robinson remains an active advocate for food allergy families in the surrounding community but she hopes to help raise awareness of food allergies across the country.

Here are some answers to a few common questions you may have about food allergies:

  • What recommendations do you give to your patients to manage their food allergy?
    “Allergen avoidance is the only way to prevent food allergic reactions. In the event of an accidental exposure, Epinephrine Auto-Injectors should always be easily accessible for treatment. Epinephrine is the first line treatment in the event of a food allergic reaction. For younger children always being prepared with safe foods and snacks is vital.”
     
  • What are some important things a newly diagnosed patient should know about food allergies?
    “They are not alone. I also like to offer resources such as FAACT and FARE for support and education.”
     
  • What are some common myths about food allergies?
     
    •  MYTH: Anaphylaxis always presents with skin symptoms.
      Not necessarily.  20% of anaphylaxis does not involve hives or other skin symptoms. 80% of fatal reactions have no skin symptoms.
       
    • MYTH: Antibacterial hand sanitizer is effective at removing food allergens.
      In fact, soap and water must be used in order to remove allergen from hands.
       
    • MYTH: Prior food allergy reactions predict the severity of future reactions.
      Nope. Reactions are unpredictable. 

And speaking of reactions, they can range from mild to a severe anaphylactic reaction.  While reactions should be treated by a medical professional, many unfortunately require a visit to the emergency room.  According to FARE, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room every three minutes.

Please join us and as we continue to raise awareness about food allergens during Food Allergy Awareness Week and throughout the entire year.