VIENNA, VA, DECEMBER 1, 2015 – This is the time of year when friends and families gather to celebrate the holidays with long-standing traditions, creating memories that last a lifetime. To help ensure a safe and fun-filled holiday season for all, Allergy & Asthma Network encourages people to be aware of family members and friends with food and latex allergies.
“Knowing the facts about life-threatening allergies and understanding the need for awareness are the first steps to becoming an inclusive host,” says Tonya Winders, President and CEO of Allergy & Asthma Network, the leading allergy and asthma patient education, advocacy and outreach organization. “For people with life-threatening allergies, awareness begins with understanding what they are allergic to and how to recognize that allergen. It continues with avoiding potential opportunities for exposure.”
Strategies for Hosting Holiday Parties
- Understand the seriousness of food and latex allergies. If guests say they are unable to eat something, it is a necessity, not a choice.
- Ask your guests about allergies when you invite them. Share your menu, including ingredients. Ask them for preparation and serving suggestions.
- Prevent cross-contact of allergens from one dish to another when preparing or serving foods. Learn more at org: http://www.allergyhome.org/handbook/table-of-contents/how-to-avoid-food-allergens/cross-contact/
- If serving a buffet, encourage those with food allergies to serve themselves first. Also, be sure to label all ingredients and have a separate serving spoon for each dish.
- If a guest has a latex allergy, be mindful of household and celebratory products that have latex in them, such as balloons, adhesive bandages and gloves for food prep. In addition, some latex allergic people have cross-reactions to food such as bananas, avocados, chestnuts and kiwi.
Part of being aware of life-threatening allergies is being prepared for the unexpected. “If a guest ends up having a life-threatening reaction, it is essential to administer their epinephrine auto-injector immediately and call 911,” says Michael Pistiner, MD, MMSc, board-certified pediatric allergist at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, co-creator of and content contributor for AllergyHome.org, and Anaphylaxis Community Expert (ACE) in Boston. “Epinephrine is the first line treatment of choice for anaphylaxis. People with life-threatening allergies need to carry two epinephrine auto-injectors with them everywhere, at all times. They must know when and how to use it and should ask their healthcare providers for an anaphylaxis emergency care plan.
“If guests experience a severe allergic reaction, they should be encouraged to follow their emergency care plan and use their epinephrine. In addition, someone should call an ambulance because the person may need further management or experience a second wave of anaphylaxis.”
It’s true that accidental exposures happen, but by implementing the strategies listed above, you can reduce the potential for accidental exposures and make all your guests feel welcome. They’ll know that you “get it” and support their needs, for which they will be thankful.
About Allergy & Asthma Network
Allergy & Asthma Network is the leading national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending needless death and suffering due to asthma, allergies and related conditions. Allergy & Asthma Network specializes in sharing family-friendly, medically accurate information through its award-winning Allergy & Asthma Today magazine, E-newsletter, website at AllergyAsthmaNetwork.org and numerous community outreach programs.
The Anaphylaxis Community Experts (ACE) program is developed by Allergy & Asthma Network in partnership with the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI), National Association of School Nurses, American Latex Allergy Association and American School Health Association and sponsored by Mylan Specialty L.P. The program goal is to save lives through showing parents, school staff, emergency responders, and others how to recognize and respond immediately to anaphylaxis symptoms.
At AllergyHome, we are part of a community striving to keep our kids with food allergies strong, safe, and healthy. We know the challenges that come with managing pediatric food allergies and life-threatening anaphylaxis. Sharing expert-guided knowledge, experiences, and tools, you can be assured that AllergyHome’s resources can assist you in protecting and empowering your children and community living with food allergies.
From the comprehensive Living Confidently with Food Allergy handbook to the school staff training module to food allergy case studies, AllergyHome is here to support you.