This past week has been an active news week in the food allergy community, from a food allergy death, a new report that outlines the need for more info on all areas, to a mind-boggling opinion piece on the need for Epi pen and food allergies.
As the events played out, I used my group Positive Parenting with food allergies to open discussion on these issues. What I found was many didn’t know asthma was a risk factor and played the most part in food allergy deaths. I found people were unsure of action plans. I took to Facebook live to do an asthma basic workshop, one that I do often as a Certified asthma educator. I also did a basic introduction to a food allergy action plan. Yet many still have questions.
What we need as a community is not emphasis on the particular allergen as many like to do. If we focus only on nuts what good does that do for people who suffer from anaphylaxis from other foods, or insect bites or medications? Great so we know nuts cause anaphylaxis. So, does the other top 6 and more. Who then is going to think oh they ate some eggs, or milk or soy or even and apply and now they are wheezing and vomiting and think anaphylaxis? Only nuts are deadly.
Putting attention on the food as the cause is not the solution. We need to raise the awareness of anaphylaxis itself and when to use epi for ALL! Action plans for the most part are individualized as they should be, but we do need to make the message clear when to EPI for all. I personally have been in the ER and even ER doctors don’t want to Epi. We need to have a better awareness campaign for anaphylaxis in general like the 2-symptom rule. Many still wait till breathing is involved. This is not only about educating parents but educating DRs as well.
In addition, many don’t know about asthma and its role in Fatal anaphylaxis. Asthma alone is deadly! add food allergies into the mix and you have a dangerous combination. That is why on food allergy action plans It clearly says if asthma (higher risk if severe reaction) Yet many don’t know that. Another issue is many times people think it’s asthma and it’s really anaphylaxis, and not knowing the difference, they just take asthma inhaler A few deaths have happened for that reason. Again, Providers need to have strong conversations with their patients who have asthma and food allergies. Parents need more guidance.
I have never been shy of speaking up, saying what others don’t I see a different picture, the current picture is about protecting some, not all. At the end of the day anyone with an allergy has the same need. The need that people can spot anaphylaxis and know how to respond. I will keep speaking up and advocating for all at risk.