May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. May 10-16, 2020, is Food Allergy Awareness Week. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and MedicAlert have teamed up to help you manage your child’s food allergies and prevent severe allergic reactions. (Kids With Food Allergies is a division of AAFA).
We’re asking you to “ACT” to manage your child’s allergies:
- “A” means have an action plan for anaphylaxis.
- “C” reminds you to carry important medicines and have your child wear a medical ID to alert others of their condition.
- “T” calls for having a treatment plan that includes symptoms to watch for and what to do in an emergency.
When you enroll in a new MedicAlert membership through this special link or via phone [1.800.432.5378], use the code AAFA and MedicAlert will donate 20% of your membership fees to support the mission of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America to save lives and reduce the burden of disease for people with asthma and allergies through support, advocacy, education and research.
Epinephrine Is the First-Line Treatment for Anaphylaxis (a Severe Allergic Reaction)
If you or your child are at risk for anaphylaxis, your doctor will prescribe an epinephrine device to carry everywhere.
Epinephrine comes in three forms. Auto-injectors are the most common. A pre-filled syringe was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2018. It also comes in a glass vial with a needle syringe. This type is used in clinical settings and is found on some airplanes.
Once you receive your epinephrine device, you need to learn how to use it. Almost all epinephrine auto-injectors come with a training device you can use to practice. Become familiar with when and how to use it when you are calm and not dealing with a reaction. This will reduce anxiety and confusion when you actually have to use it for a reaction.
If your child has allergies, teach your child how to use it as soon as you feel they are old enough. Have other people who watch your child practice with the trainer too.
How Do I Use an Epinephrine Device?
An epinephrine device injects medicine into your outer mid-thigh. If you have an auto-injector, it will release a needle and inject the medicine automatically when you push the device against your leg.
With a pre-filled syringe, you remove a cap to expose the needle and then inject the needle into your thigh.
While these devices may be easy to use, they all have different safety features, such as a cap you have to remove before you can use it. This is why it's important for you to learn how to use the specific device you carry.
What Types of Epinephrine Devices Are Available?
There are several types of epinephrine devices available. They also come in doses sized for infants, children and adults. Most of them come as easy-to-use auto-injectors. Work with your doctor to find the right device you are the most comfortable carrying and using.
KFA has a list of all of the current epinephrine devices and links to training videos. Find your device and watch the training video so you know how to use it.
Are Other Allergy Treatments Available?
There is no cure for allergies. But there are other options that may help you manage them depending on the type of allergy. These treatments can reduce your chance of having a serious allergic reaction.
If you are allergic to stinging insects - such as bees, hornets and wasps - you may be able to get immunotherapy (allergy shots). Allergy shots are injections of allergens that you get in an increasing dose over time. These will make you less sensitive to the insect's venom.
If you have a food allergy, you may be able to do oral immunotherapy (OIT). With these treatments, you eat a increasing amounts of your food allergen until you reach a target amount. You then eat a small amount of the food regularly, usually daily. This may allow you to eat your food allergen regularly with less chance of having a reaction as long as you continue treatment.
The Food and Drug Administration approved Palforzia for peanut allergy in early 2020. It is the first FDA-approved treatment for food allergy. Other types of food allergy treatments are also being developed. Coming soon: a patch placed on the skin which releases small amounts of peanut into the skin to train the immune system.
Prepare, Care and Share
Share this image and tweets to spread awareness:
- In honor of Food Allergy Awareness, I'm making a pact to A.C.T. for Allergy. By working together, we can reduce severe allergic reactions: kidswithfoodallergies.org/act #act4allergy via @kfatweets Tweet This
- T is for Treatment: Talk with your doctor about #allergy treatments that may work for you. Practice how to use your emergency medicines. kidswithfoodallergies.org/act #act4allergy #foodallergy #foodallergyawareness via @kfatweets Tweet This