Food Allergy Treatments

Food Allergy Treatments
The best treatment for a food allergy is to completely avoid the problem food.
Being diagnosed with a food allergy has a massive impact on the whole family.
Eating is such a central part of day to day life that having to be absolutely sure
that a child has no contact with a particular food affects mealtimes, going to
school, holidays and social occasions. A simple supermarket trip has been shown
to be almost 40% longer when shopping for a food allergic child.
Parents also need to be able to recognise reactions and know exactly how to deal with them when they occur.
This usually involves carrying anti-histamines everywhere the child goes and also, for those children at risk of
anaphylaxis, adrenaline injections (see below).
Children with food allergies are also at risk of missing out on the essential nutrients that they would otherwise
get from the food they are avoiding, especially in the case of infants with milk allergy. Fortunately, there are
now many specially designed milk substitutes suitable for these children and, with the help of a dietitian, a
nutritious diet can be achieved even in children with multiple food allergies. Dietitians can help parents to
make sure that a child with a food allergy has a varied and nourishing diet, and this ensures healthy growth
and development. It can also play an essential part of minimising the impact on your lifestyle by offering
acceptable foods. It is also possible to obtain special foods for your child, such as wheat-free alternatives to
bread and pasta; a member of the allergy team can advise you as to where to buy these, and whether they
can be obtained on prescription.
Many food allergies, such as egg and milk, are outgrown during childhood, whilst allergies to peanuts, nuts,
fish and shellfish tend not to go away. Children with food allergies also have a high chance of having other
allergic problems such as asthma, eczema and hay fever.
It is essential that children with food allergies continue to be seen by their doctors as they grow up. Repeating
allergy tests can help predict if the allergy has been outgrown so that the food can be carefully reintroduced
into the diet. It is also essential that the child is carefully examined for any signs that they are missing out on
any essential nutrients due to their restricted diet, or if they are developing signs of other allergic problems.
Unfortunately, there are no cures for food allergy in the immediate future although exciting research does
promise real progress over the next 5–10 years, not only in our understanding of how to prevent allergies
occurring in the first place but also for helping those who already have them.
Food allergy can potentially have the greatest impact upon the lifestyle and choices made by a child and their
family. However, with clear understanding of the issues, and through having good routines in place to cover
both food choices and emergency situations, the impact of food allergy can be kept to a manageable level.
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by guarantee and registered in England and Wales. Charity No: 1094231. Company No: 4509293.
Registered in Scotland - Charity No: SCO39257
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Adrenaline Auto-Injector Pens
Adrenaline injector pens are used for severe allergic reactions, where the child
may suffer from anaphylaxis, and allow adrenaline to be injected quickly and
easily to combat the allergic symptoms. The pens are prescribed according to the
weight of the child, and are sometimes designated as junior or senior injector
pens.
There are now a number of different adrenaline devices available, but they all
contain exactly the same medication. They are made by different manufacturers and have a slightly different
mechanism in how they are administered.
How to use
 Appropriate training is needed to administer an adrenaline auto-injector. Ask your GP, allergist or nurse
to show you and your child (if old enough) how to administer the auto injector; they will probably have
‘dummy’ pens that you can use to practise with
 Auto-Injector pens come with instructions and are easy to administer, but it is essential that anyone
caring for your child understands exactly when and how to use them, and knows that immediate follow
up with medical care is necessary
 Training auto-injectors which do not contain adrenaline or a needle are available to registered autoinjector users, from both the Epipen, Jext and Anapen websites www.epipen.co.uk www.jext.co.uk and
www.anapen.com
 Contact Allergy UK for further information about training as well as information on available videos that
show how to administer adrenaline via the pens. (Alternatively, a training video is available for viewing
on the Epipen and Jext websites)
 Sometimes a second dose of adrenaline may be required, and for this reason it is important to have
more than one auto-injector
 It is advisable to have between two and four auto-injectors (i.e. two at home and two at school). It can
be difficult to get these prescribed but if you explain to your treating doctor your requirements then
hopefully this will be achievable
 An ambulance should always be called following administration of adrenaline as sufferers of anaphylaxis
can go on to have a later secondary reaction, and the hospital can then administer additional treatment.
The hospital can also provide a replacement for the auto-injector you have used once they have checked
your child and monitored them
Allergy UK ⋅ Planwell House ⋅ LEFA Business Park ⋅ Edgington Way ⋅ Sidcup ⋅ Kent ⋅ DA14 5BH
Allergy UK is the operational name of the British Allergy Foundation, a charitable company limited
by guarantee and registered in England and Wales. Charity No: 1094231. Company No: 4509293.
Registered in Scotland - Charity No: SCO39257
-2-
www.allergyuk.org
 Storage is important and injector pens should be in an easily
accessible place that everyone at home knows about. In school the
pens should be in an unlocked area which the child knows well. Some
older children may carry the pens themselves
Good practice
 Ask your treating doctor for a management plan that details your
management of the condition and also what to do in an emergency
 Talk to a dietician for information on your child’s diet and adequate provision for nutritional needs.
Dieticians can be accessed via your hospital doctor or GP and can also provide information on
alternative foods and recipe adaptations
 It can be a good idea to have designated members of staff at school so that your child knows whom to
go to. All staff should be made aware of your child’s allergy so that if they develop any symptoms they
can be monitored
 A protocol should be drawn up detailing treatment and advice, and staff training (given by a medical
professional) should be undertaken regularly
 A child’s photograph should be kept on the protocol form which should be inside any auto-injector box
and staff should familiarise themselves with the photos and names of any children who are at risk of
anaphylaxis
 Always talk to your doctor or dietician about reintroducing foods that have previously been avoided
 Remember that it is very important to be aware of potential cross-contamination when preparing food
for allergic children. It is essential that all utensils and food preparation surfaces which are used to
prepare foods that may be harmful to your child are not then used for preparing food for your child
without thorough cleaning. In the same way dishes and cutlery for eating should not be shared between
your child and other individuals
Tips
 Get together a list of foods that are safe and foods which must be avoided. Try to adapt recipes so you
are able to include your child safely. Details of allergenic recipe books are available from Allergy UK and
you can ask your local library to order them in for you.
 Have a box of treats at home that always has something to eat in it, so that you will always have ‘safe’
foods available and your child does not feel that they are missing out on treats
 Think about packed lunches and carry spares in the car in case you are longer than you anticipate
 Try to be organised, pre-arrange your menus and shopping, and freeze and bake essential supplies
Allergy UK ⋅ Planwell House ⋅ LEFA Business Park ⋅ Edgington Way ⋅ Sidcup ⋅ Kent ⋅ DA14 5BH
Allergy UK is the operational name of the British Allergy Foundation, a charitable company limited
by guarantee and registered in England and Wales. Charity No: 1094231. Company No: 4509293.
Registered in Scotland - Charity No: SCO39257
-3-
www.allergyuk.org
 Make a note of new foods and products that are suitable for your
child and where to access them. This can make shopping easier as
you will probably find you cannot obtain all the special dietary
products from one store
 Don’t let children share their food with others. Make sure they have
suitable alternatives if they are going, for example, to parties or there
are school activities involving food, and keep these supplied so that
the teachers are confident they can provide something without having to isolate them due to their
allergy
 Obtain a list of the different names used for food types, for example, food products containing dairy
products are sometimes labelled as containing whey or casein. More advice on this can be obtained
from the Allergy UK Helpline
Self help
 Try to help your child develop confidence in what they eat by helping them check menus and food labels
for safe items (Free From logos) and allergens. Also help them to learn how to ask about suitable foods
when they are out
 Make sure your child will tell you if they have accidentally eaten something or if they are unsure about
the safety of any foods. It is important that they are not frightened by their condition, but they
understand that watching what they eat will allow them to stay healthy
 Some children, especially if they are forming friends, do not want to ‘tell’ on a friend if they have been
given a snack which they should not have. Try to encourage them to tell you, that way you can manage
the situation and let them know there won’t be any repercussions with their friends
 Some children can feel pressured by their friends and general peer group to try foods that they are
unsure of, or to go hungry rather than show that they are different because they have an allergy. A
number of books are available that give advice on how you can help and encourage your child to cope
with their condition and encourage them to resist peer pressure. For more information on the books
available contact Blossom
 A number of organisations exist that can give advice on how to help children at risk of anaphylaxis.
Allergy UK can provide you with help to access this support, as well as further information on
precautionary measures that your child and anyone caring for your child can take to minimise exposure
to allergens
Allergy UK ⋅ Planwell House ⋅ LEFA Business Park ⋅ Edgington Way ⋅ Sidcup ⋅ Kent ⋅ DA14 5BH
Allergy UK is the operational name of the British Allergy Foundation, a charitable company limited
by guarantee and registered in England and Wales. Charity No: 1094231. Company No: 4509293.
Registered in Scotland - Charity No: SCO39257
-4-
www.allergyuk.org
 Translation Cards can prove useful when travelling abroad; they provide
details of the food allergy in the language of your choice and are available
from Allergy UK
Last updated: March 2012
Allergy UK ⋅ Planwell House ⋅ LEFA Business Park ⋅ Edgington Way ⋅ Sidcup ⋅ Kent ⋅ DA14 5BH
Allergy UK is the operational name of the British Allergy Foundation, a charitable company limited
by guarantee and registered in England and Wales. Charity No: 1094231. Company No: 4509293.
Registered in Scotland - Charity No: SCO39257
-5-
www.allergyuk.org
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