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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prevention Is Best for Food Allergies

People with food allergies can live a normal life. The key, according to experts, is to plan ahead and speak up. Ask questions about what ingredients are in foods, whether a meal is eaten at a fancy restaurant, a school cafeteria or a friend's home.


Most importantly, don't delay in seeking medical care. According to a study by allergist John Yunginger and his colleagues at the Mayo Clinic, those who deny their symptoms or rely solely on oral antihistamines to block a severe reaction have a higher risk of death from food allergies.


Other tips recommended by allergists and the Food Allergy Network include:


?Learn the technical and scientific names for foods used on ingredient lists. Casein and whey are two milk by-products that often slip by people who are allergic to milk.


?Read labels no matter how many times you buy a food product. Manufacturers sometimes change ingredient lists without warning.


?When in doubt, don't eat a food. If ingredient lists are not available or if you can't confirm what is in the food, don't eat it. An 18-year-old girl who was allergic to peanuts suffered a fatal reaction two minutes after eating a bowl of chili containing peanut butter at a restaurant, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.


?Avoid buying deli meats if you are allergic to milk. The machines used to slice meat are often contaminated with milk products because they are also used to cut cheese and are not necessarily cleaned in between uses.


?Use separate pots, pans and utensils to prevent cross contamination of food in the home. Even a small trace can cause a fatal reaction in some people.


?Be prepared. Carry a personalized emergency-care card listing your doctor's name and number, your medications and foods that can cause an allergic reaction for you. Wear a medical emergency bracelet or necklace listing your food allergy. Carry an EpiPen or Ana Kit (auto-injectors containing epinephrine, a form of adrenaline that can help control a severe reaction) and carry a liquid antihistamine to help control reactions.


?Once a reaction begins, never delay in seeking immediate medical help, even after taking such steps as injecting epinephrine. Get to a hospital emergency room immediately for additional help.


More information about food allergies is available from:


?The Food Allergy Network, 10400 Eaton Place, Suite 107, Fairfax, Va. 22030-2208. Phone: (703) 691-3179. World Wide Web: http://www.foodallergy.org - American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, 611 E. Wells St., Milwaukee, Wis. 53202. Phone: 1-800-822-2762. World Wide Web: http://www.aaaai.org


?Clinical Center Communications, National Institutes of Health, 9000 Rockville Pike, Building 10, Room 1C255, Bethesda, Md. 20892. Phone: (301) 496-2563.


?International Food Information Council, 1100 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 430, Washington, D.C. 20036. Phone: (202) 296-6540.