Peanut Allergies in Children: Three Things Parents Should Know
Does your child have a peanut allergy? Keep him safer with these tips and tricks from an allergy specialist.
Peanut allergies affect approximately 400,000 school-aged children in the United States alone. Allergy & Asthma Specialists specializes in high-risk food challenges and innovative techniques for the treatment of food allergies, including peanut allergy desensitization.
If you suspect or learn that your child has a food allergy, specifically an allergy to peanuts, what do you need to know to keep him or her healthy? Dr. Nora Lin, M.D., Clinical Assistant Professor at Drexel University and private physician at Allergy & Asthma Specialists, tells us three things to keep in mind.
Know the symptoms and monitor your child’s allergy
“Because symptoms can be subtle, it’s not always easy to tell if one is suffering from a peanut allergy specifically,” Dr. Lin says, adding, “This is why it’s especially important for teachers and kids to be aware of the signs.”
The most common symptoms of peanut allergies are stomach pain, skin reaction, coughing, difficulty breathing, and – the most severe – anaphylaxis. Ensure that your child has access to an epinephrine auto-injection (EpiPen) in the case of an emergency.
Dr. Lin also recommends making sure medical forms are updated and seeing the allergist regularly to keep tabs on your child’s peanut allergy through routine testing.
Pay close attention to food labels and restaurant menus
Since peanuts are a common ingredient in many products, be aware of any labels with warning statements, such as “may contain peanuts.” Even if you use a peanut substitute, these products are often manufactured in the same facilities as peanuts, so to avoid cross-contamination read labels carefully, and contact food manufacturers with specific questions you may have.
Dining in restaurants also presents a challenge, as peanuts often appear as a hidden ingredient in many sauces and marinades. Because peanuts are frequently used as a dessert topping, ice cream shops also present a great risk of cross-contamination. Be sure to ask servers and alert them to your child’s allergy.
Communicate allergy information to school staff
Alerting your child’s teachers and other school staff of their peanut allergy is key to avoiding a potential allergic reaction. Bring school administrators a signed medical statement by your child’s physician that identifies the specific food allergy and particular life activities affected by an allergic reaction.
Dr. Lin says there are even fun ways to alert teachers and classmates at school about your child’s food allergy. “Allergy alert labels and stickers are available in different colors – and even in the form of bracelets – for everyone to be made aware.”
Fellowship-trained, board-certified allergists/immunologists at Allergy & Asthma Specialists provide comprehensive allergy and asthma diagnostics and state-of-the-art treatment at offices in Center City Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, and Collegeville. Schedule today online at www.AllergyandAsthmaWellness.com or call 1-800-86COUGH, option 2.