Kids With Food Allergies (KFA) hosted a Twitter chat on food allergies on May 11, 2021. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) and David Stukus, MD, associate professor and Director of the Food Allergy Treatment Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, joined us to answer common questions about food allergy reactions, diagnosis, management, and epinephrine.
Below are some highlights from the chat. To see more, search for the hashtag #FoodAllergy101 on Twitter.
1. What happens inside the body during a food allergy reaction? Are there common symptoms to watch for?
A food allergy is caused by an immune response to a food - should be reproducible with every ingestion.— Dr. Dave Stukus (@AllergyKidsDoc) May 11, 2021
Symptoms can vary over time and change with each reaction. Any organ system can be involved and rashes/hives are very common...but not always present.#foodallergy101 https://t.co/ALADck6j8B pic.twitter.com/EdkxKbH2aX
A1 An allergic reaction to food happens soon after eating the food. The symptoms can worsen quickly. There are also some types of rare food allergies where the reaction may be delayed two to six hours after eating. https://t.co/EGWddXJd9r #FoodAllergy101 https://t.co/tlxp45unYo pic.twitter.com/EOXzyB3dBa— KidsWithFoodAllergies (@kfatweets) May 11, 2021
The types of symptoms and how serious they are can change with each reaction. You can’t predict how an allergic reaction may be from one time to the next. And some symptoms look differently in babies than they do in older children. #FoodAllergy101 2/2— KidsWithFoodAllergies (@kfatweets) May 11, 2021
2. What is the most accurate way to diagnose food allergies?
A2 Proper diagnosis of food allergies is important. Studies show many suspected food allergies are actually caused by other conditions such as a food intolerance. Skin tests and blood tests are often ordered. #foodallergy101 https://t.co/wYhPRiLV9L— AAAAI (@AAAAI_org) May 11, 2021
A2 There are many steps involved to determine whether a child has a food allergy. First, an allergist will take a careful history of what happened when you/your child ate the suspected food. They will ask about the timing and types of symptoms that occurred. #FoodAllergy101 https://t.co/jt6lAb1Jrq pic.twitter.com/MgFKtCY5E3— KidsWithFoodAllergies (@kfatweets) May 11, 2021
3. What is the difference between a food allergy, food intolerance, and food sensitivity?
Great question - definitions are very important as they guide diagnosis, testing, risk, and management.— Dr. Dave Stukus (@AllergyKidsDoc) May 11, 2021
Food allergies pose risk for severe reactions, including anaphylaxis.
Intolerances can make people sick, but mainly GI symptoms.#foodallergy101 https://t.co/fDhvRCuoQP pic.twitter.com/6CEjpAJ8Jm
IgE skin & blood tests help diagnose food allergy.— Dr. Dave Stukus (@AllergyKidsDoc) May 11, 2021
There are limited tests for food intolerance but elimination diets may help.
There are zero validated tests for food sensitivity - but that doesn't prevent companies from marketing: https://t.co/iBGyEZVYnY #foodallergy101 https://t.co/fDhvRCuoQP
4. What are some tips to help people with food allergies safely attend school, play sports, and travel?
I always recommend discussing with school, coaches, etc before the school year or season begins...day 1 is hectic for everyone.— Dr. Dave Stukus (@AllergyKidsDoc) May 11, 2021
If possible, circle back 2 weeks later "How's everything going? Any questions or unanticipated challenges so far?"
Communication = 👍 #foodallergy101 https://t.co/pqVTKHb5Nc
Hydration is key - don’t share your water bottle with anyone #foodallergy101— Carina Venter PhD RD (@VenterCarina) May 11, 2021
With education & preparedness...anyone with food allergies can do all of these things!👏— Dr. Dave Stukus (@AllergyKidsDoc) May 11, 2021
✅Communicate & read ingredients to prevent ingestion
✅Have treatment plan in place
✅Keep epinephrine on hand at all times
✅Provide safe snacks/meals
✅Have fun!!!#foodallergy101 https://t.co/pqVTKHb5Nc
5. Epinephrine: What is it? When should it be used? Where should it be injected? Why is it safe? How does it work?
A5 Epinephrine is the first line treatment for a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Epinephrine comes in self-injectable form and works quickly. OTC medicines (like Benadryl®) do not stop life-threatening symptoms. https://t.co/VxOVi1pW02 #FoodAllergy101 https://t.co/4e4zOZVJeq pic.twitter.com/LjvTtwW4QI— KidsWithFoodAllergies (@kfatweets) May 11, 2021
When to use epinephrine to treat anaphylaxis:— Dr. Dave Stukus (@AllergyKidsDoc) May 11, 2021
✅If any 2 organs are involved (hives + vomiting, etc)
✅If you think of using it
✅If you're not sure to use it
✅If you think of using it
Epi is very SAFE, works fast, treats all symptoms and is a great treatment #foodallergy101 https://t.co/O0zuomOOd4
6. What are some self-management tips to help people avoid accidental ingestion of their food allergens?
A6 Avoiding food allergy reactions begins with an accurate diagnosis to know what to avoid. Our online course Managing Your Child’s Food Allergies can help – https://t.co/5qVDasPt9z #FoodAllergy101 https://t.co/tW8wKbluEq pic.twitter.com/ATMy0yGPoK— KidsWithFoodAllergies (@kfatweets) May 11, 2021
A6 For people with food allergies, understanding how to read a food label is necessary to effectively avoid any food to which one might be allergic. Here are a few tips & things to keep in mind when reading a food label. #foodallergy101 https://t.co/dm80GmNBKy— AAAAI (@AAAAI_org) May 11, 2021
Read every label, every time. Companies often change recipes and manufacturing practices, which can mean a previously safe item might no longer be safe to consume. #foodallergy101— Sakina Bajowala, MD ⚕️ (@allergistmommy) May 11, 2021