Food allergies can have serious and sometimes life-threatening consequences. It’s crucial for parents along with anyone who looks after a person with food allergies are well-prepared and informed to reduce the risk of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction.
Allergy London’s Professor Adam Fox, together with Dr Nandinee Patel, Dr Ru-Xin Foong, Dr Paul Turner, and Professor Graham Roberts have created a new leaflet, co-designed with allergy charities and patient groups, aiming to empower and assist families, caregivers, grandparents, and anyone responsible for the care of individuals with food allergies.
Here we provide a brief overview of the guidance, covering the steps you can take to protect your child from severe allergic reactions.
Get an accurate diagnosis:
- Know the specific foods your child is allergic to.
- Consult with specialists to learn how to avoid allergenic foods.
- Teach your child to recognise allergic reactions and inform an adult immediately.
Recognise symptoms of anaphylaxis:
- Familiarise yourself and your child with the symptoms.
- Ensure your child knows how to use adrenaline auto-injectors (AAIs).
- Understand the different AAI brands and how to use them.
Use adrenaline immediately:
- If you suspect anaphylaxis, administer adrenaline via AAI as a first step.
- Inject into the thigh for quick and safe action.
- It’s safer to use an AAI when unsure rather than not using it when needed.
Keep two in-date AAIs:
- Ensure your child has two AAIs with them at all times.
- Replace them before expiration.
- Using an out-of-date AAI is better than having none in an emergency.
- Well-controlled asthma reduces the risk of breathing difficulties during an allergic reaction.
- Stick to a regular inhaler routine and see a healthcare professional for asthma reviews.
Have an allergy action plan:
- Every child with a food allergy should have an Allergy Action Plan.
- Share the plan with caregivers, teachers, and other carers.
- Practice scenarios to ensure everyone knows what to do.
Communicate with childcare providers:
- Ensure school staff understand the Allergy Action Plan.
- Provide access to AAIs at school and during trips.
- Encourage the school to have spare AAI devices.
Communicate with restaurants:
- Clearly communicate your child’s allergies to restaurant staff.
- If you don’t feel understood, address the issue with the manager.
- When traveling, use translation cards with allergen information.
In the event of anaphylaxis:
- Use AAIs at the first sign or if in doubt.
- Administer adrenaline in the upper thigh muscle.
- Call 999 (or emergency services) and mention anaphylaxis.
- If symptoms don’t improve within 5 minutes, give another AAI dose.
- Don’t let your child stand up.
- Avoid activities like exercise, bathing, or alcohol consumption until fully recovered.
- Seek medical help, even if your child feels better.
Taking proactive steps to reduce the risk of severe allergic reactions is vital for the well-being of children with food allergies. By following these guidelines and ensuring everyone involved in your child’s care is informed, you can help keep your child safe and minimise the risk of anaphylaxis. Always consult with medical professionals for personalised guidance and support.