Food allergies in the United States are becoming more common among children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention food allergies increased among children by approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011. About one in 13 children have a food allergy.
But while having a food allergy can be life threatening, it doesn't mean it has to be life altering.
"While food allergies are a chronic condition that can require a lot of work, there are many ways to still lead a happy, healthy life," says Jessie Skriner, a certified health education specialist at University of Utah Health.
The first thing anyone with a food allergy needs to know is that not every allergic reaction is the same. Symptoms can vary from swelling, to a rash, to respiratory problems or even anaphylaxis.
"Past reactions do not predict how a person will react in the future, so being prepared is very important," Skriner says. "You should always be prepared for all levels of reaction, including carrying an EpiPen for the most severe cases."
Of course, the idea of an EpiPen can be intimidating for anyone who has never used one before. Overcoming that hurdle can be lifesaving, though.
"There are resources available that can teach and educate in the proper use of different epinephrine devices through medical websites, printed materials ,and allergy and medical clinics," Skriner says.