Health

The latest news on nut allergies

Canadian Living
Health

The latest news on nut allergies

Guest post by Erin Cassidy 

nut allergy

I have a life-threatening allergy to peanuts and nuts and carry an EpiPen with me everywhere I go. I wanted to discover if there were any new developments in nut allergies so I spoke to Lilly Byrtus, the regional coordinator for the Prairies, North West Territories and Nunavut region with Allergy and Asthma Information Association. She shared her peanut and nut knowledge, ranging from tips to preventions about this serious allergy. Are there any new awareness when it comes to peanut/nut allergies? Byrtus says when it comes to labelling, most manufacturers use the common name of peanut on the label. “Some manufacturers use a peanut-free logo to indicate the product is peanut-free,” Byrtus said. “They may use the disclaimer ‘may contain peanuts’ which is still a voluntary statement.” Byrtus warns that just because it says there are no peanuts, there may be other nuts in the product. Have there been any new advances in medical help? The EpiPen, a familiar product for those with severe allergies, now has some competition. “There is a new autoinjector out in the market, Allerject, which is manufactured by Sanofi,” Byrtus said. “This device gives voice instructions like the AED (automatic external defibrillator device), and is smaller in size than the EpiPen.” Despite its size, it has the same dosage as an EpiPen. The Allerject is available in adult and pediatric formulations. Are there any new preventative tips out there? Unfortunately there isn’t many ways to prevent coming across peanut and nuts in everyday life. Byrtus says that avoidance is the only way to prevent severe allergic reactions. “[One] must completely avoid all contact with any foods that they are allergic to,” Byrtus said. “But be careful and not fearful when it comes to living well with allergies.” What is the percentage of Canadians who are living with a peanut or nut allergy? According to Byrtus, statistics are difficult to get, especially specific food allergies. She says that a study that was done by Dr. Ann Clarke at McGill University Health Centre in Montreal in 2010, lists 1.93 per cent of Canadians live with a peanut allergy. Does a peanut or nut allergy run in a family? Byrtus says that a specific allergy doesn’t necessarily run in families, but that the tendency to be allergic is genetic. “If someone in the family has a food allergy, or environmental allergy, or allergy to medication for example, there is a higher chance for others in the family to be allergic to something,” Byrtus said. “Allergies are considered hereditary, but the environment also plays a part in determining who becomes allergic.” What can people who have this allergy do to make sure not to ingest the peanut/nuts? Any suggestions? “Avoid eating foods which cannot be identified as being free of the offending allergens,” Byrtus said. “This means careful questioning in restaurants. Don’t eat if you are concerned about the responses to your questions.” Another suggestion Byrtus gave was to avoid buffets as certain ethnic foods tend to be more risky. “Avoid buying foods from bulk-bins as cross-contamination is a real concern,” Byrtus said. As well, remember that certain alcoholic beverages do contain nuts such as Amaretto, Southern Comfort, Frangelico, Nocino, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Kahana Royale and others. What can parents do if their child has a peanut/nut allergy? Byrtus says that parents should teach children at a very young age to not accept food from others who do not know they are allergic. “Another very important tip for parents is to teach their children to always wash their hands well before they eat to wash off any nut contaminants they may have touched on door knobs, computers, books, playground equipment’s and others,” Byrtus said. Always carefully read labels, especially before offering food to an allergic child. Photo courtesy of thinkstockphoto.ca    
Comments
Share X
Health

The latest news on nut allergies

Login