MIAMI, FL – April, 2012 – Food allergy is a life-threatening condition that affects 6 to 8% of children under four years of age in the United States and roughly 4% of adults, and its prevalence appears to be increasing. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of children with food allergies has increased 18% in the past ten years and the number of patients seeking treatment at hospitals and clinics for food allergy related symptoms has tripled since 1993. Other types of allergies, such as hay fever or seasonal allergies can be controlled through medications and treated with immunotherapy. Food allergies, however, can only be managed by avoiding the foods that cause reactions and treating the reactions caused by exposure. In the case of a severe, life-threatening system shutdown, or anaphylactic shock, treatment with epinephrine (EpiPen) is the difference between life and death. With 150 to 200 people dying from severe food allergy-related reactions in the United States, Florida Center For Allergy & Asthma Care wants to help you be prepared for an emergency.
Eight foods, otherwise known as the ‘Big 8’, account for 90% of all food allergic reactions in the United States: peanut, milk, eggs, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shell-fish. Peanut allergy is the most commonly occurring and the most dangerous. Unlike other members of the ‘Big 8’, peanut allergies are seldom outgrown and claim the highest percentage of fatal food anaphylaxis, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. Patients already diagnosed with peanut and other food allergies are facing new guidelines in emergency treatment of anaphylaxis. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recently recommended that patients be prescribed two doses of epinephrine, or EpiPen Twin-Packs, to be carried at all time.
“In 30% of cases with severe allergic reactions, a second EpiPen is needed, — one is simply not enough. An EpiPen dose can last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, however there are those instances where an EpiPen is administered and five to ten minutes later, symptoms have not improved, making the second dose critical. This why it is essential to keep two EpiPens in every location,” states Dr. Michael Pacin, founder of the Florida Center For Allergy & Asthma Care.
While it is crucial for diagnosed patients to maintain their supply of EpiPens, it is equally crucial for undiagnosed patients, particularly children, already showing symptoms of food allergies such as hives, swelling or difficulty breathing, to be brought in for testing with an allergy specialist. Recent studies show that as many as 24% of epinephrine administrations in schools involve children with a previously unknown allergy. In some instances, schools are not permitted to administer an EpiPen to a child for whom there is no registered EpiPen, even if one prescribed to another child is readily available, as in the case of Ammaria Johnson, a 7-year-old Virginia student who died earlier this year on January 2nd after peanut induced anaphylaxis, while several EpiPens prescribed to other children sat in the nurses office.
New legislation has recently been proposed that may provide an answer for parents with seriously allergic children. In November of 2011, a bill was introduced on Capitol Hill entitled the ‘School Access to Emergency Act’. This bill would enable schools to maintain a supply of non-student specific epinephrine and enable staff to administer an EpiPen to any student having an anaphylactic reaction. Some states, such as Illinois have already passed similar laws but the ‘School Access to Emergency Act’ would make it federally mandated.
Florida Center For Allergy & Asthma Care has 39 years of experience in diagnosing, treating and managing food allergies. Once diagnosed, patients can be guided through the process of safe-guarding their diets, learning to recognize ingredients, reading food labels, developing an Emergency Action Plan for the home, school or office, and on the road, proper use of the EpiPen and providing support through in-office visits as well as group meetings with other families dealing with food allergies the first Saturday of every month held both in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. Contact Florida Center For Allergy & Asthma Care today.
For more information on Florida Center For Allergy & Asthma Care please call 1-877-4-ALLERGY or visit www.florida-allergy.com
Florida Center For Allergy & Asthma Care has been in business since 1974 and has board certified physicians with extensive experience in treating both adults and children. FCAAC has multiple centers throughout South Florida, serving communities in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. FCAAC specializes in the testing and treatment of adults and children who suffer from allergies, asthma and other disorders of the immune system. Among the most common allergies treated are allergic skin diseases, food, drug and pet allergies. Florida Center For Allergy & Asthma Care Research conducts clinical trials on new medications. The goal of the FCAAC team is to provide professional and quality care resulting in total patient satisfaction.