Food Allergy Living Blog Tagged Results


food allergies vacation

How many EpiPensĀ® should your child have on hand?

Posted 6.28.11 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

While we usually write about common food allergy symptoms, such as diarrhea or eczema, more severe reactions like anaphylaxis are possible for many children and adults with allergies. Allergens that cause anaphylaxis include food, insect stings, drugs, latex, and even exercise.  When anaphylaxis happens as a result of contact with an allergen, a rapid immune reaction occurs that can quickly make breathing very difficult.  For those patients an immediate injection of epinephrine can prevent very serious complications.  Sometimes even the few minutes it takes emergency medical care to arrive is too long, and a personal device with automated injectable epinephrine, an auto-injector, such as the EpiPen® Auto-Injector, is essential.

The EpiPen, made by Dey Pharma, works by delivering a quick shot of epinephrine to the thigh.  There are also similar devices available, such as the Adrenaclick® and TwinJect®, both made by Shionogi Inc. Twinject is unique in that it has a built-in backup dose of epinephrine, which can take the place of two auto-injectors in an emergency.

Epinephrine helps the body to keep the airway open so that breathing does not become as difficult, allowing time for emergency medical care to arrive. But many parents worry that one auto-injector might not be enough or that something might go wrong that could require additional auto-injectors. For instance, someone nearby might experience a severe allergic reaction and need to use your child’s auto-injector. Or what if your child’s only auto-injector was unknowingly broken? What if the auto-injector were accidentally put in the fridge or left in the sun? What if the contents were cloudy? Or if it had expired? So many scary possibilities!

So, what is the right number of auto-injectors? The answer to that question depends on a number of factors. Bear in mind that the Twinject has two doses of epinephrine, but according to the company the second dose should only be used as a backup to the first dose and should not be saved for future allergy emergencies.

How Many to Carry?

On their websites, Dey Pharma and Shionogi recommend that patients at risk for allergic emergencies carry two doses of epinephrine. This is because up to 20% of patients who have an allergic emergency requiring epinephrine will require a second dose. At all times the injector should be kept close to room temperature, out of sunlight, and replaced by the expiration date. You can even sign up for an expiration date reminder on either of the websites. It’s a good idea to occasionally check the solution in the auto-injector to make sure it hasn’t discolored, which can be a sign of a possible loss of effectiveness.

If a long trip is planned, especially one overseas where similar products may not be readily available in pharmacies; two auto-injectors (or one that contains two doses) may not be enough.

Should you or your child carry more than two auto-injectors? Not necessarily. Additional backups would likely be for peace of mind. A second dose of epinephrine may be needed in an emergency, but more than two doses during an emergency should only be given with medical supervision. Some caregivers choose to carry two auto-injectors from different lots for added precaution.

Multiple Locations

Some patients who use auto-injectors prefer to carry the standard two with them and also keep backup injectors in one or more strategic locations. These might include an extra one or two at work, school, daycare, and/or a relative’s house. These are great because they can serve as backup in case someone forgets their daily go-everywhere auto-injectors. Just make sure you follow the recommended storage instructions everywhere you keep an auto-injector and check your backups for discoloration and expiration dates. Knowing that you have extra auto-injectors in places like this, in addition to the daily carry-with auto-injectors you have, may bring you more comfort.

How about you? How many auto-injectors does your family keep on hand, and where? Please share your thoughts in the comment section of this blog post.

- Rob

 

 


3 Tips to Prepare for Summer Camp with Food Allergies

Posted 7.25.17 | Nutrition Specialist

Step #1: Research

Planning is always the key to success and essential when your little one has food allergies. Let’s discuss some tips and resources to help you research summer camps for your little one to be sure both your child and the camp are properly equipped to successfully manage their food allergies.

Questions that will need answers:

  • What is the camp menu and options for allergy friendly alternatives?
  • Is there a dedicated place for allergy friendly food or snacks to be stored?
  • Is there a dedicated place to store epinephrine at camp?
  • Is your child allowed to bring packed lunches/snacks? What about potential allergens from the other campers that will be attending camp with your little one?
  • Is there a food allergy management plan for the camp?
  • Is there a designated area for little ones with food allergies to eat?
  • What kind of camp staff are available for your child? Is there a healthcare professional on site?
    • If so, what are the healthcare professional’s credentials, responsibilities or capabilities?
    • If not, who is available to assist your child with any medical issues or medications?
  • What is the procedure for emergencies? Where is the nearest hospital or medical center?
  • What activities are offered that might elevate the allergen exposure for your child?

Resources to help you in your research:

Another good resource is the following recording of a webinar featuring Dr. Pistiner and Ms. Polmear-Swendris answering questions about how to choose a camp, what questions to ask of summer camp staff, how to store epinephrine at camp, and a review of basic food allergy management.

Step #2: Advocate

Now that you have done your research, it is time to start advocating for your child. Even if the camp you have chosen is well ahead of the food allergy game, your child is unique and truly one of a kind. It is your job to advocate for your child and make sure everyone is educated and prepared to provide the needed care for your little one specifically. The camp will need education regarding the details of your child’s food allergies, any signs or symptoms they need to be on the lookout for, as well as, what to do if an exposure is either suspected and/or confirmed. Here are the ABC’s of how to advocate for your camper:

  1. Notify everyone possible about your child’s food allergies. This might include:
    • The camp director
    • Staff assigned to work or interact with your child
    • All healthcare professionals available to your child while at camp
    • Anyone assisting in transportation
    • Staff working with food or staffing mealtimes
    • The camp lifeguard
    • And even any camp volunteers, special event or course instructors, or staff subs is that is possible.
  2. If there is no food allergy policy already in place, make sure to outline one that is tailored to your little one’s needs. If a policy exists, then you should still make sure and outline the details of how it will apply to your little one in particular
  3. Prepare an Emergency Care plan and Food Allergy Cards for reference to all who will need this information. Need some guidance to prepare these documents. Check out these resources:

Step #3: Educate

Now that the camp staff are prepared with the knowledge and tools they will need, time to be sure your camper knows how to advocate and care for themselves. After all, your child will be the best and first line of defense to prevent accidental exposure to allergens. If you need assistance, here is a Neocate blog with 3 Easy Steps for Success when Explaining Food Allergies to your Toddler.

Here are some quick items you may want to cover when educating your child to be ready for their summer camp adventure:

  • Discuss their red light and green light foods (or safe and unsafe) and what they can expect while at summer camp
  • Perhaps some reminders for rules when eating, such as not to share food with other campers
  • Their symptoms or reactions to food allergens
  • Who and to whom to tell if they feel funny, or what to do in certain camp situations
    • Not to go off alone if they are not feeling well
    • Where they can receive medical attention if needed
    • Where their important allergy documents are located
    • How to administer their medications, or epinephrine if needed
  • How to read a food label if possible, or who to ask for questions about the food options when at summer camp. Perhaps where their food allergy friendly snacks will be stored

     

  • If interested, this might be a wonderful time to get your little one a medical alert bracelet. There are many options available, including water proof ones that are perfect for summer!

Time for Summer Camp Fun

Keep in mind, getting ready for camp can be similar to how you get ready for a new school year or traveling. If you need additional tips on how to specifically travel this summer with Neocate, make sure to check-out Helpful Tips and Resources when Traveling with Food Allergies.

Now it is time for your little camper to get out and enjoy the summer camp fun. You have done your research, advocated for your little camper with staff, and educated your little one on how to have fun and stay safe while at camp. Time for the fun to begin.

Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? We would love to hear how you prepare for summer camp with food allergies, and especially how your little Neocate camper did at their summer camp. Please share in the comments below.

-Kristin Crosby MS, RDN, LDN



About Us

Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.