Food Allergies

Food is a source of nutrition and enjoyment. For most people, the major nutritional challenge is to eat the right amount of healthy foods and to limit intake of junk foods. Many people, however, are allergic to some nutritious foods and must avoid them.

A food-allergic reaction involves the digestive, skin, and/or respiratory systems. In highly allergic people, anaphylaxis - sudden, severe and life-threatening symptoms that include swelling, difficulty in breathing, heart failure, circulatory collapse, and sometimes death - can occur within minutes of exposure. Immediate administration of life-saving epinephrine, a liquid antihistamine (like Benadryl), and Emergency Medical Services ("911") are required. 90% of food-allergic reactions are caused by peanuts, tree nuts (such as walnuts, pecans and almonds), fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, soy, and wheat.

There is no cure for food allergies. Strict avoidance is critical. Information concerning food allergies is available from the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (www.foodallergy.org), the Food Allergy Initiative (www.foodallergyinitiative.org), and the Food Allergy and Asthma Support Group of North Jersey (contact PalKidz@aol.com).

The following tips can help to minimize food allergy risks:

For the host or hostess planning a meal for a food allergic guest:

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