When your child is diagnosed with a food allergy you will have many new questions. Understanding test results and determining which foods are safe for your child takes a lot of energy and effort. Everyone finds a way to manage food allergies. Here are some first steps you may want to consider:
- Talk with your allergist. (You may want to find a pediatric allergist.) Ask questions about your child’s test results. Prior to your appointment, write down a list of questions and consider bringing another adult so you have a second “set of ears” to receive detailed information. Schedule a follow-up visit with your allergist.
- Find a book about food allergies and/or review food allergy websites.
- Ask your physician/allergist to provide an Emergency Action Plan for managing a food allergy reaction. This will include how to recognize signs and symptoms of a reaction, and which medications to use. Keep the medications and your Emergency Action Plan with your child at all times.
- Learn how to use the epi auto-injector of your choice: EpiPen® or Auvi-Q™, and others. Most epi auto-injector companies provide instructional videos on their company website.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions for managing a reaction. Remember to:
- Use your EpiPen®/Auvi-Q™ and then call 911, even when a reaction appears to go away.
- Ask 911 to provide “Advanced Life Support.” This is the highest level of care and may be needed if the reaction becomes severe.
- Arrange to have an extra EpiPen®/Auvi-Q™ and other medications at your child’s school, babysitter, or daycare.
- EpiPen®/Auvi-Q™ come in a set of two and should not be separated. An extra may be needed if one doesn’t work properly or if more epi is required before you get further medical care.
- Do not store your EpiPen®/Auvi-Q™ in extreme heat or cold (i.e. your car). The medication is very sensitive to temperature extremes and it could be damaged.
- Review your Emergency Action Plan with everyone who cares for your child – family members, friends, teachers, sitters, etc.
- Consider getting a medical identification bracelet for your child. Emergency medical workers recognize these. Bracelets can be a visual reminder for your child and caretakers/teachers.
- Learn about food ingredient and allergen labels. Read the label each time you buy a food; the ingredients and/or manufacturing situations may have changed. Eat only what is clearly labeled. Consider this rule: “If you can’t read it, you can’t eat it!”
- Help your child learn which foods are unsafe and how to read food labels.
- Teach your child not to share foods with friends.
- Consider food allergy books and videos just for children.
- Bring a “safe treat” for your child when he/she attends a birthday party or celebrates in the classroom. Team up with the “Room Parent” or become the “Room Parent” so you are aware of celebration plans and can provide allergy safe treats.
- Eating out at restaurants can be risky! Have a detailed conversation with your waiter, chef or the restaurant manager before ordering. Provide a detailed list of your child’s allergens. Ask about cross-contact as well. Use a restaurant/chef card to detailing your allergies and need for safe food preparation.