May is Asthma and Allergies awareness month and because of that ,I am writing to you the media, as a mom of 2 boys who are anaphylactic to dairy and have other food allergies. I am also a food allergy advocate and certified asthma educator.
The topic of food allergies has been well covered in the press. What has not been covered is the bizarre caste system that has emerged within the food allergy world .On the top of the pyramid, we have peanut allergies. By now, every school, camp, etc has been declared peanut free and no responsible parent would dare send their child anywhere with a peanut butter sandwich. Lower down, but still taken seriously, are the tree nut allergies. And then we have all of the other food allergies – Eggs, dairy, soy, shellfish, wheat, fish. Those who suffer from the non-nut allergies face 2 struggles. The first is the same as everyone, getting recognition and accommodation of their food allergy. The second struggle is to have their non-nut allergies taken as serious as nut allergies.
All of this seems to be driven by this completely false belief that nut allergies are more severe than others. How this widespread belief came about is one of the big mysteries I cannot get to the bottom of. Nuts are not even the most common allergen – Dairy is. And the truth is, any allergen can cause anaphylaxis . You can’t imagine the struggle my kids face trying to get their allergy taken as seriously as nut allergies. Essentially, nobody takes other allergens as seriously, from schools to birthday parties, etc. They are the second-class citizens of the food allergy world.
I have so much more to say on this topic. I hope you find it interesting. Given that May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month (http://www.aafa.org/page/asthma-and-allergy-awareness-month.aspx), this could be something to explore.
@allallergiesmatter on twitter.
Or @harriet75 on twitter
In recent weeks, I have been seeing many questions on message boards about inhalers and sudden reactions. Parents asking can steroids cause anaphylaxis, or that their provider prescribed medication to make their child better but one dose they ended up in the hospital. Why? The answer is simple each and every time I ask does your child have a dairy allergy? And the answer has always been yes.
Many dry powder asthma inhalers ( DPI) like Advair can contain traces of milk. While a report was done, http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(03)02677-0/abstract https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4187530/
It appears the message has not made it to providers or ER physicians. As in the last month I have had 4 people with this issue. This information is in the insert of the medication and online that if a patient has a milk allergy the should not take it. Do not use ADVAIR DISKUS if you have a severe allergy to milk proteins. From Advair’s own website “Do not use ADVAIR DISKUS or ADVAIR HFA if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the products. Ask your healthcare provider if you are not sure” Many other DPI also have milk this in not exclusive to Advair
As a certified asthma educator and as someone who is milk allergic as are my kids, I have learned I need to read every insert and do my own research on each and every medication my kids take. I do find it disturbing that this is not common knowledge and patients are still being prescribed medications that will make them sick. Providers need to know about this contraindication as do Patients.
Parents ask questions! research the medications your children are given. Please ask a pharmacist if your provider can’t answer your question.
Providers please read up on milk allergies and asthma medications so that a patient isn’t given something that is going to make them sicker.
Again, this isn’t a big secret, many of us have known about this issue for years. I hope with this post I can help educate a few more people about this serious issue. Living with a dairy allergy is tough because not only do you need to worry about the food you eat, but also the medications you take.
As always if you have any questions please let me know, leave a comment or find me on twitter @harriet75