Allergic Living has advice on how to respond to a severe allergic reaction, particularly when to administer epinephrine and seek emergency medical treatment.

At first she didn’t show any symptoms and her mother gave her a dose of antihistamine; but in 20 minutes the systemic reaction began. Her father, a physician, gave her three doses of epinephrine, but it wasn’t enough to stop the rapid-fire chain of events. She began vomiting, her throat swelled to the point where she could no longer breathe and she went into cardiac arrest. She died in his arms.

Natalie’s story has spiked fears among Allergic Living’s readers, in particular parents of children and teens with food allergies. It has also raised questions about just what to do in case of an accidental allergen ingestion, so we turned to two experts for answers.

The key takeaway: you can’t always be sure a mild reaction will stay mild, because it takes time for the body to absorb the food. I was fortunate enough to survive learning that lesson, exactly one week before Natalie Giorgi’s death. All I lost was an afternoon and the $200 co-pay for the emergency room. It could have been so much worse.

In related news, we’re going to be doing the FARE Walk for Food Allergy again this year to raise funds for food allergy research and education. In addition to promoting awareness and research, they’ve been working on increasing availability of epinephrine in schools and providing resources and training for parents, schools, healthcare providers, restaurants, food manufacturers, etc. If you’d like to contribute, here’s our fundraising page.

Originally posted in two overlapping posts on Tumblr (which included the quote) and Google+ (which included the fundraising appeal).

The Walk for Food Allergy that I’ve been plugging over the last couple of months was held this Sunday. We drove out to Long Beach to join several hundred other people in the walk to raise funds for the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. You helped us raise $1,342.15, putting our team into the top 5, and the event overall raised $45,360 before offline donations are counted. The money goes to FAAN and their mission to support food allergy research, education, awareness and advocacy. FAAN sponsors a series of these events throughout the year, so if you’d still like to make a donation, you can contribute through December 31.

Because food allergies are on the increase, a lot of the people affected by them are children, so there were a lot of families at the event. I remember last year featuring a stage and information booths for support groups, medical groups and allergy-friendly food companies like SunButter and Enjoy Life. This year they also had an inflatable slide and a rock climbing wall. (The organizer said that they moved it to Long Beach so that they could get that wall.)

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From this week’s newsletter, Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network is funding a study on suppressing peanut allergy. I’ll be walking to raise funds for the organization next month, and this is just one of the reasons why.

We are pleased to announce that FAAN is funding a final phase of a clinical study focusing on the safety and efficacy of oral and sublingual immunotherapy in children with peanut allergy. The study is led by Robert A. Wood, M.D., a professor of pediatrics and international health and director of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. Dr. Wood’s team aims to better understand the complexities of the mechanisms of desensitization and long-term tolerance. This final phase of the study will enable Dr. Wood and his team to conduct additional laboratory studies that may help researchers understand which patients will respond to these therapies.

FAAN’s Research Grant Program has awarded more than $5 million since 2004 to scientists advancing research in the field of food allergy.

Donate or join our team if you’d like to help!

In two months, my family is walking to raise funds for food allergy research, education, awareness and advocacy. Here’s why.

For millions of people like me who have food allergies, the simple act of grocery shopping or eating out can be a minefield. Food allergies range from mild to immediately life-threatening, and while some treatments show promise at suppressing them, and emergency medication (if given right away) is usually effective, the only reliable course right now is avoidance.

That’s not as easy as you might think in a world where packaged foods seem to have 500 ingredients, and a lot of people (including restaurant cooks!) are unaware of or outright dismiss critical medical needs as simple preferences.

When I ask you whether your homemade cookies have nuts in them, or when I ask the waiter whether the salad dressing is based on peanut sauce, it’s not because I want attention. It’s because I don’t want to spend the afternoon in the hospital. Or worse.

To top it off, the medical community is still trying to nail down just what causes allergies. We know the mechanism: The body’s immune system detects a foreign substance, identifies it as dangerous, and overreacts to it, causing anything from tingling, swelling and hives to difficulty breathing and death. What we don’t know is why some people have this sort of reaction and others don’t. Again, there’s promising research being done, but we’re a long way from being able to say “Do X and not Y and you can prevent your child from developing life-threatening allergies.”

All these are reasons that my family is walking to raise funds for the Food Allergy Network. Their mission is to spread awareness, provide education and advocacy, and promote research into food allergies. You may have seen them in the news recently as they’ve pushed for state and federal laws encouraging schools to carry stocks of epinephrine auto-injectors — and allowing them to use them — so that children who experience a serious reaction at school can be kept alive.

The Los Angeles walk is coming up on October 21 in Long Beach, 60 days from now.

Please donate or join our team!

Thank you!

FAAN Walk for Food Allergy