Anaphylaxis and Food Allergies

A life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) is a severe reaction to a specific allergen, or allergic trigger. Common triggers can include but are not limited to food, biting or stinging insects, medications and latex. Exercise induced anaphyaxis is also possible, and sometimes anaphylaxis has no apparent cause at all (this is known as idiopathic anaphylaxis).

Anaphylaxis occurs when the body perceives a trigger as a threat and starts forming antibodies (special proteins made by the body’s immune system) to defend itself. These antibodies cause the release of certain molecules that produce the immediate symptoms of anaphylaxis.

Food Allergies and severity of a food triggered life threatening allergic reaction depends on a number of factors. The amount eaten, the food form (cooked, raw or processed) and the co-ingestion of other foods. Other variables include the person’s age, the sensitivity at the time of ingestion, how fast the food is absorbed by the body and whether the person has another condition, such as severe or uncontrolled asthma.

Food triggers can be difficult to avoid, particularly if the allergen is hidden in the meal or mislabeled in the ingredient list. In particular, children with potentially life-threatening food allergies, such as peanut allergies, may inadvertently eat a trigger food at school. In this case, it’s important that the child and his or her family, caregivers and teachers know how to recognize the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and know what to do in the event of a life-threatening allergic reaction: Administer (epinephrine injection) or Auto-Injector immediately and seek emergency medical care. Be prepared with an anaphylaxis action plan.
References
The official website for EpiPen® (epinephrine) and EpiPen Jr® (epinephrine) Auto-Injectors. (n.d.). Retrieved July 07, 2016, from https://www.epipen.com/en/what-is-anaphylaxis/what-causes-anaphylaxis/food-allergies
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