Summer tips for those at risk for anaphylaxis
Warm weather is here, bringing barbecues, picnics and more time spent outdoors. Everyone should be able to enjoy these popular pastimes, including the up to six million Americans at risk for a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis. For these people, a bee sting, shrimp on the barbecue or a latex balloon may lead to a life-threatening emergency. That’s why it’s important to have a plan in place to help avoid allergens and be prepared if accidental contact occurs.
Life-threatening allergic reactions may occur as a result of exposure to allergens including foods such as peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, dairy, eggs, soy and wheat; insect stings; latex and medication, among other allergens and causes. Outdoor celebrations can pose challenges for people living with severe allergies. Picnics, for example, bring together large groups of people and often a smorgasbord of food. This can be dangerous for those with severe food allergies, as even the smallest amount of an ingredient or cross-contamination with another food can trigger a severe allergic reaction. Eating outside can also attract stubborn insects whose stings may be unpredictable.
Dr. Vivian Hernandez-Trujillo, a pediatric allergist, national expert in anaphylaxis and consultant to Sanofi US, says the best way to prevent anaphylaxis is to avoid the specific allergen(s). However, because severe allergic reactions can be unexpected, it’s critical to always carry an epinephrine auto-injector, such as Auvi-Q™ (epinephrine injection, USP), in case emergency treatment is needed. “I always stress to my patients how important it is to carry an epinephrine auto-injector at all times, in addition to allergen avoidance,” said Dr. Hernandez-Trujillo.
While guidelines emphasize the importance of the life-saving role of epinephrine, two large surveys (n=600 and n=651) show that two-thirds of patients and caregivers do not carry their epinephrine auto-injectors as recommended, and nearly half worry that others will not know how to use their or their child’s epinephrine auto-injector correctly during an emergency.
Those at risk for severe allergic reactions should speak with their healthcare provider about treatment options. Auvi-Q is one option for the emergency treatment of life-threatening allergic reactions in people who are at risk for or have a history of anaphylaxis. The size and shape of a credit card and the thickness of a smartphone, Auvi-Q is a breakthrough in epinephrine auto-injector design with audio and visual cues that guide patients and caregivers step-by-step through the injection process.
In addition to always carrying an epinephrine auto-injector such as Auvi-Q, here are some tips to help stay safe outdoors and enjoy the coming months:
Make everyone aware of your or your child’s severe allergies
Consider making homemade food rather than store-bought or take-out, as these foods may contain hidden allergens
Single-serve condiment packets can help avoid cross-contamination
Tablecloths can help protect against anything left on the table from previous meals
Use foil when grilling food to avoid past contaminants
Look for non-latex balloon alternatives, such as mylar balloons, for celebration needs
Tips to Avoid Stinging Insects
Keep food and drink, especially sweets, covered to avoid attracting stinging insects
Don’t swat at bees. Walk away slowly, instead.
Wearing close-fitting long sleeves and pants or insect repellent can reduce the risk of getting stung
Bees and wasps look for food among flowers, plants and garbage, so beware of these areas
Auvi-Q™ (epinephrine injection, USP) is used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) in people who are at risk for or have a history of these reactions.
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