Tuesday, October 8, 2013

You Can Never Be Too Educated

I'm back!!!!!  After a temporary break caused by planning the 5k, working full time, a doctor's appointment out of town for B, and my newly-found ulcer, I am happy to be posting again.  I guess we all need to take regular breaks from time to time in order to refresh ourselves...


Tonight I want to talk about how to educate yourself on allergy definitions and to familiarize and make yourself comfortable with them.  There are so many medical terms and diagnoses that come with food allergies.  If you do as much research as I do, then I am sure you are fully versed in all of them.  If so, this should just be a quick refresher.  If not, you are about to get schooled.  My grandpa (the wisest of wise men that I have ever encountered) is famous for saying "You can never be too educated", and when dealing with food allergies, it is CRITICAL to educate yourself.  DOING SO CAN SAVE YOUR CHILD'S LIFE!!!!! (Or your life, or your friend's, or someone else you care deeply for).

So let us start with the most basic of definitions:

Food Allergy: A specific type of adverse reaction involving the immune system.  Eight foods account for almost all food allergy reactions: milk, egg, peanut, tree nut, soy, wheat, fish, and shell fish.  If you feel you may have a food allergy (or intolerance), consult your physician for blood and skin testing. 

Now that we have covered the most basic, I will alphabetize the rest for convenience if you need to print and refer back to various terms.

Adrenaline: (aka Epinephrine): The hormone given via auto-injection (EpiPen) for emergency relief of food allergy symptoms (mainly anaphylaxis).

Allergy Band: (aka allergy bracelet or medical ID bracelet): used to communicate medical issues or allergies to medical and emergency professionals.  The band should include medical alerts and if possible, contact information.  Check out this site for some really fun ones for children with food allergies www.allermates.com

Allergy Card: These cards look like a credit card and conveniently fit in your wallet.  They help to explain allergies with ease when dining out and to ensure safe dining.  The card can easily be given to your server and then given to the chef.  Sometimes these are also called chef cards. 

Allergen: A substance that can trigger an allergic reaction.  Common food allergens include: dairy, eggs, fish, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, soy, and wheat.

Allergic Reaction:  The hyper reaction of the immune system after exposure to an allergen .

Antihistamine: A drug that blocks histamine released by the body during an allergic reaction, such as Benadryl.

Anaphylaxis: A severe, life-threatening allergic reaction.  Usually two systems of the body are involved, such as the respiratory and circulatory systems.  Symptoms of this type of reaction are difficulty in breathing and a drop in blood pressure.  (It should be noted that symptoms are not just limited to these two).

Asthma: A disease of the lung airways which causes swelling and inflammation of the airways and makes breathing difficult.  If someone is asthmatic and suffering from an allergic reaction to food, they are at an increased risk for a more severe reaction.

Auto-Injector (aka EpiPen): The medical device for administering adrenaline (epinephrine) to treat an allergic reaction.

Ok, I think we have discussed all of the "a" terms.  So onto the only "b" term I could come up with that is food allergy-related: Bullying

Bullying has become an epidemic in our world today.  It amazes me how cruel people can be.  Children, of course, but adults are often the ones partaking as well.  Bullying is defined as "When a person uses their power to control or harm someone by physically, verbally, visually, or emotionally threatening another person, either directly or indirectly.  The person has the intent to cause harm to the victim while creating a sense of power and satisfaction in the bully.  Bullying is abusive since the behavior can affect the victim over a long period of time and can be repetitive" (The Allergy Table).  It is my sincere hope for future generations that this type of behavior ceases and that people start respecting and caring for one another and live in peace. 

On to the rest of the terms which have been deemed necessary to be aware of in the food allergy world...

Celiac Disease: An autoimmune disease that attacks the small intestine after ingesting any and all foods containing gluten.

And one of my favorites, that so few people understand...Cross-Contamination: The transfer of a food allergen from other foods, cooking surfaces, eating surfaces, manufacturing equipment, utensils, etc. to another food.  Cross-contamination will be a post devoted entirely to itself.

Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA): An amendment to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act which requires that the label of a food that contains protein from a major food allergen declare the presence of the allergen in the manner described by the Act. 

Food Allergy Action Plan: A specific action plan listing all allergies, reactions, and treatments.  A copy of the plan should be with the person at all times.   Specifically with children, copies should be on hand in the classroom, school office, with a school nurse, daycare, babysitter, family members, and on the bus or with a carpool parent. 

Food Intolerance: An abnormal response to a food or additive.  It is different from a food allergy because it does not involve the immune system.  The severity of the reactions are much less with a food intolerance versus those of food allergies.

Gluten: Foods that contain gluten come from the wheat family, also known as the Triticum spp. 

Hives: Itchy areas of skin or rash, raised above the surrounding skin.

Immune System: The system of the body which protects and reacts again infections.  In the case of an allergic reaction, the immune system mistakes the allergen for something that the body needs to fight against.

Lactose: Sugar found in milk.

Lactose Intolerant: An intolerance caused by difficulty ingesting lactose.  It is different from a dairy allergy, which can be life-threatening because it is not an immune system reaction.

Self-carry: A child that is old enough to "self-carry" has their meds with them at all times, a child that is too young relies on an adult as being responsible for the meds.

Hopefully these terms are now part of your vocabulary.  If not, re-read this until they are!  It is crucial to know these basic terms when you or your child have been diagnosed with a food allergy.  Remember, you can never be too educated:)

Here is a yummy recipe that is a cool weather favorite in our house (from Coffee with Us 3):

Slow Cooker Fiesta Chicken Soup
1 lb. boneless chicken breasts
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1/2 c onion (diced)
1/2 c carrots (diced)
1/2 c corn
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 10 oz can of Rotel Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles
1 14.5 oz can of chicken broth
1 lime (juiced)
1 c salsa verde
1. Spray slow cooker with non-stick spray.
2. Add all ingredients into slow cooker and cook for 6 hours on low.
3. 1 hour prior to finished cooking time, take out chicken breasts and shred.
4. Return chicken to soup and finish cooking time.
5. Optional: garnish with vegan sour cream and tortilla strips
Enjoy!  :)

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