Parties, family gatherings and other social scenes are great ways to make wonderful memories during the holiday season, but for those who battle food allergies, it can be a very stressful time of year.
Dr. Jennifer Patel with Chattanooga Allergy Clinic shares some valuable insights to help those who suffer from food allergies keep the joy in their holiday celebrations.
Q: What are the most common food allergies people have to be careful of during the holidays?
A: About 95 percent of food allergies are to the following foods, which can all be a concern when navigating food options during the holidays: milk, egg, soy, wheat, peanuts and tree nuts, and fish and shellfish. Fish and shellfish may be less of a problem, but each of the other foods can "hide" in common dishes served during the holidays. It is important to be aware of the ingredients in the foods you are eating and avoid foods if you are unable to confirm the ingredients. If you have food allergies it is important to keep two EpiPen or Auvi-Q epinephrine autoinjectors to treat severe allergic reactions with you at all times.
Q: What are some good resources for alternative foods or recipes to avoid triggers or problem foods?
A: The Food Allergy Research & Education website (foodallergy.org) is a great resource for families with food allergies. It also has a food allergy blog (http://blog.foodallergy.org/category/allergy-friendly-recipes/) with a list of safe recipe options for food allergy patients.
Q: What's involved in treatment for people who battle food allergies?
A: Unfortunately, there is no current Food and Drug Administration-approved treatment for food allergies, other than avoiding the foods you are allergic to and carrying two EpiPens or Auvi-Q with you at all times in case of a reaction. There has been some encouraging research recently supporting the future treatment of people with peanut allergies with either a patch containing peanut that slowly gets absorbed through the skin, or by ingestion of a tiny amount regularly by mouth. We are hopeful that we will be able to provide these treatments in the future for our patients.
Q: What do patients complain about or say is their biggest stress with regard to the holidays and food allergies?
A: Patients report frustration over not being able to eat without stress at social or family events. They are concerned of unknown ingredients in dishes. It can be stressful socially to have to limit the foods you can eat, but I encourage my patients to bake and bring things they know they can eat so they will have safe options they enjoy.
Q: For people with asthma, is this time of year be problematic?
A: Winter months can be problematic for asthmatics as we are entering the viral season. People tend to be indoors more often and exposure to viral illnesses increases. Viral illnesses can cause asthmatics' condition to flare and experience worsened symptoms including coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath.
Q: How should asthma patients make sure they are prepared?
A: The best way to take care of yourself is to make sure you are taking your daily inhalers as prescribed and always have your rescue inhaler with you in case of emergency. It is also important for asthma patients to get the flu shot to help protect them from the flu. If an asthmatic patient gets the flu they are more likely to need an emergency room visit or even hospitalization.
Chattanooga Allergy Clinic treats all types of allergic disorders and problems. It has five offices with eight providers in and around Chattanooga, and has just added new offices in downtown Chattanooga and Dunlap. For more information about food allergies or to find an office near you, visit chattanoogaallergyclinic.com or call 423-899-0431.
It is important to be aware of the ingredients in the foods you are eating and avoid foods if you are unable to confirm the ingredients. If you have food allergies it is important to keep two EpiPen or Auvi-Q epinephrine autoinjectors to treat severe allergic reactions with you at all times, according to Dr. Jennifer Patel of Chattanooga Allergy Clinic
For more information about food allergies or to find an office near you, visit chattanoogaallergyclinic.com or call 423-899-0431.