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    Severe Food Allergies: An Emergency Plan

    1. Read Labels. Every time you shop, read the label on everything you put in your grocery cart. New labeling rules make it easier to spot the ingredients. Now, labels have to list if they have an ingredient that may be an allergy trigger in disguise. For example, they have to say "egg" instead of just "albumin" (an egg product). They also have to list the specific nuts or seafood in a product.

    Even if you've bought something before, read the label again. You never know when ingredients might change.

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    Spotting Hidden Allergy Triggers

    If you've been living with allergies, you probably know the obvious stuff by now -- don't take in stray cats, don't hang around in dusty attics, don't inhale deeply in smoking lounges. But that might not be enough. There could be hidden allergy triggers and irritants all around you that you don't know about. "Hidden allergens and irritants are a huge problem for people with allergies," says Hugh H. Windom, MD, an associate clinical professor of immunology at the University of South Florida. "The...

    Read the Spotting Hidden Allergy Triggers article > >

    Check more than food labels. Some lotions, hair care products, soaps, and medications can also have food products -- like nuts or milk -- that might trigger allergies.

    2. Ask Questions -- When you go out to eat, whether at a restaurant or a friend's house, ask what's in the food. Ask if food has been prepared using the same surface or utensils as a food you are allergic to. At a restaurant, talk to the chef, manager, and your server about your allergies. Order food that's prepared simply. Always carry your medication with you, just in case. When eating at a friend's house, offer to bring a “safe” dish that others can share.

    3. Carry Medicine -- Your doctor will probably prescribe an Auvi-Q or EpiPen (injectable epinephrine). Make sure you or your child know when and how to use it and what to do after you use it. You or your child should always have two of them handy. You’ll need to use it in case of an allergic reaction. Check the expiration date and write it on your calendar, or sign up for automatic refills at your pharmacy. Make sure everyone in your family knows how to inject it.

    4. Have an Allergy Action Plan -- Talk to your doctor about what to do in case of an allergic reaction. Write down what foods you or your child are severely allergic to and what to do in case of a reaction. Keep a copy of the plan on file. If your child is allergic make sure your child’s school has copies and that his teachers know about it. If you’re allergic, have a plan at work.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on November 16, 2014

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