Allergies and Stress

Stressed Parent

When it comes to food allergies, many Neocate families are in the same boat: food allergies cause stress and make life difficult. Every day, we speak with families who manage food allergies, and who experience stress due to allergies. We recently came across an article in a journal, Pediatric Nursing, that addressed this stress and summarized the research on this topic. The article is The Psychosocial Impact of Life-Threatening Childhood Food Allergies. No surprise: the stress exists, and it can have a lot of consequences.

Check in with your stress level

There may not be any great revelations from this article – it encourages healthcare professionals to be aware of the impacts food allergies can have on families, and to look for ways they may be able to help families. But for everyday people living in the food allergy community, it can serve as a good reminder of the amount of stress food allergies can cause, and the impacts that stress can have.

Some of the emotions surrounding food allergies:

  • Fear and uncertainty
  • Constant feeling of “living with risk”
  • Need for “constant vigilance”
  • Feeling of food allergies taking over
  • Feeling overwhelmed

Food allergies can affect many activities for parents and families, including the following:

  • Meal preparation
  • Family social activities
  • Child’s social activities
  • School activities
  • Family relationships

Finally, food allergies can have negative impacts, including:

  • Cause significant stress to caregivers
  • Diminished free time
  • Impact employment due to missed time and lost focus
  • Impact finances

If nothing else, take the opportunity right now to check in with yourself and your family. Are food allergies causing you significant stress? Sometimes this stress builds slowly and we may not realize how big the burden has become. It may be helpful to discuss these feelings with a family member or a healthcare provider.

Rob McCandlish, RDN

Image: Microsoft Office Clip art

Published: 03/22/2013
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