Managing food allergies when there is no cure

March 24, 2020

Her friend, Josh, frantically rifled through her purse to find her EpiPen. Apparently, there were traces of peanuts in the curry. As her throat continued to swell, her eyes started watering. 

“I don’t want to die,” she gasped.

Just then, Josh stabbed the EpiPen deep into her thigh mercilessly.

There is currently no complete cure for food allergies; the only way to prevent a reaction is to avoid the allergen altogether. 

When Tasha Lee was younger, her schools took her allergies very seriously and even provided a special table for kids with allergies to eat during lunch. The school also made the classrooms nut-free and had a supply of her meds in the medical office. 

However, as children get older, there is less support from the schools.

A study by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology noted that elementary schools were more likely than middle schools and high schools to adopt policies prohibiting or restricting peanuts. For example, 97.9% of middle schools and high schools allowed students to bring peanuts from home, compared to 85.5% of elementary schools. 

Starting in middle school, it was Tasha’s responsibility to carry several EpiPens and Benadryl at all times in a medical bag she keeps in her purse or backpack. She never leaves the house without them. 

Aside from taking personal precautions, Kristen Lee said food labeling laws have also made it much easier for her daughter to stay safe. 

“The new label laws about 10 years ago have made a world of difference. The top eight allergens must be noted on all food labels in clear language,” Kristen Lee said.

As the food allergy health issue becomes more known, newly-developed resources make life easier. Before eating out, Tasha can now go to a website called Allergy Eats to identify restaurants that have been rated by the allergy community. 

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