To Mom: My First Allergy Advocate

Today is an incredibly special day for so many reasons.  Not only is today Mother’s Day, but it’s also the beginning of Food Allergy Awareness Week, and I think that these two events go hand in hand. As a child who grew up with food allergies, a big part of my “growing up” dealt with transferring allergy management from my mom to me.  Now that I am older, I can really respect the amount of time and effort my mom went through to educate other parents, carry around wipes, Benedryl, and epinephrine, pack me safe treats, hand make each and every birthday cake, and never see it as a burden.  She made sure that I never felt different, excluded, or limited because of my allergies, and for that I am eternally grateful.  Her confidence and planning allowed me to experience so many cool things, and I have so much respect for all that she did to keep me safe.  But I think one of the best feelings for a mom is being able to see her child speak up for her allergies, and I can only hope that my mom can feel that pride as I tackle each experience life throws me.

While I am incredibly thankful for all that my mother has done for me in regards to keeping me safe with my allergies, I know that is not up to her and other allergy parents to keep the world informed and tolerant towards allergies, and that’s where Food Allergy Awareness Week comes in. Food Allergy Awareness Week is a campaign started by FARE’s predecessor, FAAN (Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network), in 1998 to educate others about the severity and prevalence of food allergies in our world.  

As a refresher, food allergies are caused by the IgE antibodies in a person’s blood reacting to a particular food protein as if it were a toxin and signaling a release of histamines.  Anaphylaxis is caused by a more intensive immune response, where your body releases chemicals that cause an intense drop in blood pressure, restricted airways, full body hives/welts, and other symptoms that when combined are life-threatening. There is currently no cure for food allergies, but research is being done to see what strategies we can take to reduce the likelihood of reactions for those with a diagnosed allergy.   People with food allergies must ensure that they are very cautious and avoid exposure to their allergen to prevent anaphylaxis. 

This week is a great week to learn about the causes of allergies, how you can help those with allergies, and to get involved with activism, whether it be through petitioning your law makers for increased access to epinephrine, donating to allergy research by signing up for a Hometown Heroes Walk in your hometown, or simply by wearing Teal on Thursday May 16th for #TealTakeover.  And if you have any questions, be sure to reach out to me on Facebook or in the comments section below. Happy Holidays!

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