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During our children's checkups, thepediatrician always asks whether they've had any allergic reactions to food.

Dear Ms. Owens:

A number of people may be sensitive to foods, experiencing nausea or other intestinal symptoms, but true allergy is rare.

Initial symptoms of an allergic reaction may include hives, wheezing, itching, and swelling of the lips and face. The symptoms can appear within minutes or, in some cases, after several days. Usually they can be treated with an over-the-counter antihistamine and an ice pack.

Some people, unfortunately, are susceptible to severe allergic reactions. For them, just a bite of the wrong food - most often shellfish, nuts, peanuts, and eggs - an lead to an emergency situation. Symptoms of severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) include flushing; swelling of the throat, tongue, hands, and feet; wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, and hoarseness; headache; nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps; sense of impending doom; and loss of consciousness. If not treated immediately, anaphylaxis can be fatal. It should be considered a medical emergency.

Anyone with known allergies should talk to his doctor about the drug epinephrine. Epinephrine is available in an easy-to-use auto-injector called the EpiPen. The disposable injector, which comes in adult and child dosages, has a concealed needle, minimizing apprehension. It works fast and causes little or no pain. Children with known life-threatening allergies should have an EpiPen available both at home and at school.

Prevention, of course, is still the best treatment for severe food allergies. People with known food allergies should read labels for hidden additives. It is often the hidden ingredient that catches an allergy sufferer off-guard and brings on a reaction.
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Title Annotation:Ask Dr. Cory; symptoms of food allergies
Author:SerVaas, Cory
Publication:Humpty Dumpty's Magazine
Date:Jan 1, 1994
Words:254
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