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Up to 15 million people across the U.S. have food allergies. Around 4% of adults live with a food allergy, and about 8% of children have one. Because of how busy and interconnected our world is, it can be difficult to deal with these allergies day-to-day. Our team of Columbus Allergists have put together a guide for managing food allergies.

Allergies at Home

Food allergies are easiest to manage at home. If you or your child has serious allergic reactions to foods, you may choose not to bring these allergens into your home. Our Columbus Allergists recommend taking your time to read food labels, and make sure to avoid cross-contamination of foods when other family members eat.

Make sure to wash dishes and kitchen surfaces before preparing meals. Having your family only eat in one area of the house, like the kitchen, can help keep allergens from accidentally getting spread. Make sure to keep labels with your food, and separate out foods that contain allergens from those that don’t.

Allergies at School or Work

Outside of the home, there are more opportunities for interacting with potential allergens. When your child goes to school, make sure the school understands your child’s allergies and is ready to treat an allergic reaction. Your Columbus Allergist may prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector in case of accidental ingestion of your child’s allergen(s). Having an epinephrine auto-injector and an anaphylaxis emergency plan at school will help keep your child safe in case of a life-threatening reaction. Classroom teachers should also know how to avoid your child’s food allergies. Stay up to date with events in class that may include food. You may be able to help by giving your child’s teacher safe alternative snacks and/or offering to volunteer at events.

At work, you should make sure your supervisors and coworkers know about your food allergy. Ideally, you should teach them to recognize signs of an allergic reaction and where you keep your epinephrine so they can help you. At meetings, outings, or parties where allergens may be present, make sure to talk to organizers so that they understand your needs. For day-to-day meals, bring food from home and keep it in a sealed, labeled container. It may also be possible to get a dedicated space for you to put food in an office refrigerator or cabinet.