The best treatment for food allergies is to avoid the food that causes the allergy. When that isn't possible, you can use medicines such as Reference antihistamines Opens New Window for mild reactions and the medicines in an Reference allergy kit for serious reactions.
Start by telling your family, friends, and coworkers that you have a food allergy, and ask them to help you avoid the food. Read all food labels, and learn the Reference other names that may be used for food allergens.
If your baby has a milk or soy allergy, your doctor may suggest either that you change the formula or that you feed your baby only breast milk. Specially prepared formulas are available for infants who have soy and milk allergies.
If you or your child has mild allergies, your doctor may suggest nonprescription antihistamines to control the symptoms. You may need prescription antihistamines if over-the-counter medicines don't help or if they cause side effects, such as drowsiness.
If you have a severe allergic reaction, your first treatment may be done in an emergency room or by emergency personnel. You will be given a shot of Reference epinephrine Opens New Window to stop the further release of histamine and to relax the muscles that help you breathe.
How to treat a reaction
If your doctor has prescribed an Reference allergy kit, always keep it with you. It contains a syringe of Reference epinephrine Opens New Window and Reference antihistamine Opens New Window tablets. Your doctor or pharmacist will teach you how to give yourself a shot. Be sure to check the expiration dates on the medicines, and replace the medicines as needed.
For step-by-step instructions on how to give the shot, see:
- Reference Reference Allergies: Giving Yourself an Epinephrine Shot.
- Reference Reference Allergies in Children: Giving an Epinephrine Shot to a Child.
You should also wear a medical alert bracelet or other jewelry that lists your food allergies. You can order medical alert jewelry through most drugstores or on the Internet.
Children and food allergies
It's important to take special care with children who have food allergies. A child with severe food allergies may have a life-threatening Reference anaphylactic reaction Opens New Window to even a tiny amount of a food allergen. Your child should always wear a medical alert bracelet and carry an allergy kit.
Make sure that all caregivers (school administrators, teachers, friends, coaches, and babysitters):
- Know about your child's food allergy.
- Can recognize the symptoms of a food allergy.
- Know where the allergy kit is kept and how to give the epinephrine shot.
- Know to call 911 immediately.
Children may have only mild symptoms in the first few minutes after they eat the food allergen, but they may have severe symptoms in 10 to 60 minutes. Children always should be observed in a hospital for several hours after a reaction.
Make sure that your child:
- Always wears a Reference medical alert bracelet Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window.
- Always carries an allergy kit. Children at risk of severe allergic reactions should keep the kits at school or day care as well as home. Older, mature children should be taught to give themselves the shot.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference March 23, 2011|
|Medical Review:||Reference Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology