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Managing a Severe Food Allergy

Avoid Hidden Threats continued...

"At home, the classic example of cross–contact is using the peanut butter knife in the jelly jar," Mitchell says. Countertops and hands also spread allergens. Keep the kitchen clean, and wash hands with soap and water -- not hand-sanitizer.

Cross-contact can happen at school, concession stands, summer camps, or in restaurants. It's especially common in restaurants that serve seafood or nuts, says Thomas Prescott Atkinson, MD, PhD. Most allergic reactions happen away from home.

Work with your child's school or summer camp to make sure he is not exposed to unsafe foods. When eating out, ask to talk to the restaurant manager about its cooking and cleaning methods. Work with your child's school or summer camp to keep him safe. When eating out, ask about the restaurant's cooking and cleaning methods. "Talk to the manager, not the waiter," Mitchell suggests.

Teach your child to ask questions, too. As he gets older, he can take charge of his own safety.

Help Your Child Eat Healthy

Cutting out problem foods can create other problems, like poor nutrition. Talk to your child's allergy doctor before taking healthy foods out of her diet. For example, milk, the most common childhood food allergen, helps your child grow. "An allergist can give you a list of alternative foods such as soy milk, orange juice with calcium, or vitamin D supplements," Atkinson says.

The doctor or a nutritionist can help you find the best ways to get her the nutrients she needs. Some kids may need special vitamins or supplements.

A severe food allergy affects the whole family. But it doesn't have to make anyone's life less full and active. "Your carefree, drive-through lifestyle will have to change," Mitchell says, "but once you learn to manage it, life starts to normalize again."

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Reviewed on May 30, 2014

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