Jan 29, 2015 1:00 AM

Author: Libby Mitchell

Food allergies are on the rise in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention food allergies increased among children by approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011. 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 with the University of Utah Health Promotion and Education Department. “The Food Allergy Education Program will provide information about how to avoid allergy triggers, plan ahead, recognize and treat a reaction, be prepared, deal with stress, and feel more confident.”

The first thing anyone with a food allergy needs to know is that not every allergic reaction is the same. “Past reactions do not predict how a person will react in the future, so being prepared is very important,” says Skriner. “Symptoms can vary from swelling or a rash to respiratory problems or even anaphylaxis.” Because of this, the best defense is being prepared. “You should always be prepared for all levels of reaction,” Skriner says, “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,” says Skriner, “The Food Allergy Education Program will be teaching attendees how to properly administer an EpiPen.  All participants will receive an EpiPen trainer and have the ability to practice administering an EpiPen by a trained registered nurse.”

Registration is going on now for the Food Allergy Education Program, which will be held on February 3rd at 5:15pm at the HPN-North complex. You can register here. The cost is $10 for the general public, and $5 for students. If you are enrolled in the WellU program, it’s completely free. 

Libby Mitchell

Libby Mitchell is the Social Media Coordinator for University of Utah Health Care. Follow her on Twitter @UUHCLibby

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