Did you know that about 30 million people have food allergies? While most people only have mild to moderate reactions, some have severe reactions to things like peanuts. If you are the parent of a teen with peanut allergies, you know the challenges of managing these life-threatening reactions. Let’s look at how you and your teen can know more about peanut allergies and how to manage them.
The Problems Adolescents Have When Dealing With Peanut Allergies
Peanut allergies can be difficult for anyone to control. Adolescents in particular may balk at avoiding foods which contain peanuts or peanut products. They may not take seriously that recognizing and avoiding these foods (and also tree nuts, such as almonds and walnuts) makes a difference between life and death.
Additionally, studies show that many teens with peanut and other food allergies also have mental health comorbidities, such as anxiety, depression and ADHD. These struggles can lead to accidental–or even intentional–peanut exposure.
Finally, teens often want to ignore or hide the fact their peanut allergy is a real and special healthcare need. They feel odd or even ostracized from their peers because they have to avoid certain food choices and activities which may be overrun with foods which contain or even simply touch peanuts. Examples include the lunch line at the school cafeteria, a game night with the church youth group or a birthday party.
How To Help Teens Be Allergy Aware and Responsible
Parents have the responsibility to educate teens on peanut allergy awareness and management of symptoms. Symptoms can be as mild as hives and some oral irritation or swelling. Other symptoms called anaphylaxis are far more serious and include dizziness, shortness of breath and loss of consciousness. Anaphylaxis is a true medical emergency requiring fast assessment and treatment.
Further, be sure your adolescent knows what foods to avoid. Even dishes or utensils which contact peanuts can transmit particles which provoke dangerous allergy symptoms. That contact includes personal contact such as holding hands and kissing.
Also, as the parent, encourage your teen to ask the allergist or PCP about peanut allergies and the treatment plan in place to control them. If your teen worries about how to use an epi-pen to counter anaphylaxis, tell him or her to ask the healthcare provider the best way to use it and when to carry it.
Education includes having your child tell friends about the peanut allergy and what they can do if an emergency situation occurs. And, if that exposure happens because the teen foolishly consumes peanut-containing foods or beverages (such as alcoholic amaretto), they can call home for help at any time without repercussions. Rule-breaking is serious, but at least they can know that when their life and health is at stake, you are available to help no matter what.
Complying With Allergy Medications
While getting treatment for any health condition, including allergies to peanuts and other foods, can be annoying to many teens, it’s so important. So, be sure your adolescent understands what oral immunotherapy does, how use of an epi-pen could save his or her life and how to use nasal sprays or oral antihistamines according to the allergy doctor’s directions. When you are straightforward, matter of fact and calm about allergies, teens follow that example.
Your Peanut Allergy Doctor in Will And DuPage Counties
At Oak Brook Allergists, our three board-certified and fellowship-trained allergists understand that peanut allergies are very challenging. So they come alongside families with accurate testing, innovative oral immunotherapy and other medications and perhaps best of all, education and support.
Call today to learn more about food allergies, including peanut allergies in teens and how to successfully manage them: (630) 574-0460, or request your appointment through our website. We look forward to talking to you and your adolescent soon at one of our four locations: Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Naperville or Plainfield, Illinois.