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Allergies

  • Tips for Planning a Safe and Fun Halloween for Your Child With Food Allergies

    Photo of carved pumpkins on HalloweenJust because your child has a food allergy, it doesn’t mean that your child can’t have a safe and fun-filled Halloween. With advanced planning and some creative thinking, celebrating Halloween with your child can still be a blast.

    Reading labels, staying vigilant and being mindful of alternatives to traditional Halloween revelry (and treats!), are critical for a safe and healthy Halloween for children with food allergies.

    When it comes to reading labels, at Halloween it can be a challenge because the mini-sized treats don’t usually have the ingredients listed, rather the ingredients are listed in the large bag that the mini-candies come in. Also, with miniature candy, often times the ingredients are slightly off from their larger non-Halloween packaged counter parts.

    Knowing that the majority of child food allergies stem from peanuts, milk, shellfish, eggs, tree nuts, wheat, soy and strawberries, have a look at the most popular candy and chocolate on the market. A vast majority of Halloween candy contains one or more of the ingredients that cause children’s food allergies.

    Always stay away from any treats that contain the following:

    - Chocolates (milk, eggs)
    - Candy or chocolate with caramel (contains milk)
    - Candy & chocolate with nuts
    - Candy bars with cookie centers, like Twix and Kit-Kats (wheat)
    - Licorice, Twizzlers and Tootsie Rolls (wheat)
    - Any candy or chocolate that contain strawberries

    Safe candy actually does exist at Halloween. Look for:

    - Dots Life Savers
    - Gummies
    - Dum Dum Suckers
    - Skittles
    - Starburst
    - Jelly Beans, Mike & Ikes
    - Nerd’s and most types of gums

    If you’re ultimately not up for the ensuing battle of taking candy away from your child after an evening of trick-or-treating, but don’t want to take the Halloween experience away from your child, many experts suggest that you take the time to deliver non-candy “goodie-bags” to your neighbors so they can give then to your child when she gets to their home.

    Items to consider including in the goodie-bags can be simple yet totally enjoyable for your child: glow sticks, temporary tattoos, small toys, puzzles, practical joke toys, stickers etc.

    While all the emphasis may be focused on keeping your child safe from dangerous treats, its important to remember that part of keeping them safe at Halloween, is to focus their attention away from the candy-filled side of this holiday. Here are some great “distractions” and alternative fun during the Halloween season:

    - Focus the emphasis of the holiday on planning and creating their unique Halloween costumes
    - Go all out and involve them in great Halloween decorations for the house
    - Design a Halloween themed scavenger hunt -- Your child and their friends can go door-to-door in search of the scavenger hunt items instead of candy
    - Throw an over-the-top hunted house party on Halloween night and invite all of your children’s friends over.
    - Have your child “run” the hunted house to provide her an exciting responsibility

    Regardless of how you end up spending your Halloween, for your own peace of mind always remember to carry antihistamine and epinephrine (be sure to have it at your child’s school too, especially during Halloween), and if your child doesn’t already wear one, a medical ID bracelet is mandatory for proper care in the event of an emergency.

  • A Wonderful Holiday Party Season for Children with Food Allergies

    The holiday season is a joyful time of year, especially for children eagerly anticipating special treats like sweets and toys. For parents of children with food allergies, however, it can also be an anxious time. Those same treats that kids look forward to can be life-threatening dangers to children with food allergies. The threat may seem obscure to some who don’t have kids with food allergies. In fact, according to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), food allergies affect 6 million children in the U.S., a full 8 percent of the population. This means that food allergies should be on everyone’s mind when preparing food for holiday gatherings. With proper preparation and raised awareness, the holidays can be less worrisome for parents and safer for children.
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  • Host a Great Diabetic-Friendly and Allergy-Safe Birthday Party!

    Birthday parties can often be tough for children with diabetes because they usually mean saying no to treats that everyone else is enjoying. However, parties don’t have to be a drag for these kids. Organizing a party that is diabetic-friendly and allergy-safe is simple.

    Begin by organizing your successful party with the invitations. Make a note on the card to parents to please let you know if their child has any allergies or is diabetic. This removes any stress a parent might feel about asking for special attention for their child. Being aware of allergies and diabetes requirements ahead of time also makes your planning easier.
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  • Tips for Dining Out Safely with Food Allergies

    If you or your child has food allergies, you know how difficult it is avoiding allergens while eating out. In recent years, awareness in restaurants and employee training has been improving, but dining out will always remain nerve-wracking for those with food allergies. With careful planning, however, it is possible to truly enjoy a meal at a restaurant.

    Increasing your safety while dining out begins at home. The first step is to know what menu items to avoid. Do research to find out where hidden ingredients lurk. It isn’t obvious, for example, that Caesar dressing includes anchovies or that licorice candy contains wheat. A restaurant employee with the best intentions may inadvertently serve a food containing an allergen. This is why it is important for you to be well informed about foods that may cause an allergy for you or your child.
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  • Summer Survival Tips: Insect Sting Allergies

    With the summer comes wonderful outdoor treats: picnics, barbecues, camping, bike rides, trips to the beach, and more. Unfortunately, the summer also brings with it some not so wonderful things: stinging insects like bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and fire ants to name the most common. For most people, an insect sting means only an annoying stinging sensation accompanied by mild swelling. For some, however, insect venom can cause potentially fatal anaphylaxis. Severe symptoms include nausea, facial swelling, breathing difficulty, abdominal pain, and a drop in blood pressure and circulation.

    Mild symptoms can be taken care of relatively easily. The following steps are usually sufficient treatment for mild reactions: move to a insect-free area; remove the stinger; apply a cold pack or ice wrapped in a towel; apply hydro-cortisone cream, calamine lotion, or a baking soda paste; and take an antihistamine containing diphenhydramine.
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