Watch for food allergy scares

-A A +A

For the six million children with food allergies, haunted houses and spooky costumes aren’t the only scary parts of Halloween. An allergic reaction  from sweet treats can be frightening for both kids and their parents alike. 

Food allergies are on the rise, and traditional Halloween candy often contains peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, egg and soy.  These are all common  triggers of a serious reaction known medically as “anaphylaxis.”

Symptoms of anaphylaxis can include: flushed skin, rash, swelling of thetongue, lips or throat, chest tightness, wheezing, shortness of breath, nausea, abdominal cramps and dizziness.  These reactions can occur instantly  or after several hours. If left untreated, a severe anaphylaxis reaction can result in death.

For many kids, ingesting or even touching treats containing certain foods can  prompt a frantic trip to the emergency room.  Fortunately, a lightweight and  portable device called an epinephrine auto-injector can reverse the symptoms  of anaphylaxis within minutes.  Anyone with a diagnosed food allergy should  always carry epinephrine.

It’s essential that parents and kids take a number of precautions to ensure a safe and happy Halloween when it comes to food allergies.  Here are a few  tips:

•Before your child trick-or-treats, consider distributing safe snacks to neighbors and ask that they be handed out to your child.

•Teach your child to politely refuse offers of homemade items like cookies or cupcakes.

•Enforce a strict no eating while trick-or treating rule. If possible,  talk to your child’s friends in advance and also encourage them to refrain  from eating any candies until the ingredient label can be checked.

•Avoid candies with a precautionary statement such as “May contain” if  your child’s allergen is listed.

•Don’t assume that “fun-size” candy is safe, even if the full-sized  version of a treat is allergen-free. Mini versions can sometimes contain  different ingredients.

•Inspect all candy. Even if candy doesn’t appear to contain nuts, there  is always the chance it was manufactured in the same facility as another  candy that was made with nuts.

•Speak to your child’s teacher about a school party involving non-edible  prizes, such as stickers or toys. Or, prepare treats from home that the whole class can enjoy.

•Always carry an epinephrine auto-injector when out trick-or-treating.

-- Submitted by Dr. Doug Lotz,  a physician with Family Allergy & Asthma. He sees patients  in the LaGrange office.