With more and more people now affected, food allergy has become a growing public health concern in Canada.

Allergic individuals face a number of issues, one of the most challenging of which is coming to terms with the fact that allergic reactions are unpredictable and can vary from one episode to the next. Reactions can range from mild—such as rash or hives—to the most severe and potentially life threatening, including difficulty breathing and sudden drop in blood pressure.

"Food allergy has become a growing public health concern in Canada."

Unfortunately, there is no way to tell how quickly a reaction could progress or how severe it might be. And, with no known cure, avoidance of foods that can trigger a reaction is the only way to stay safe. While this uncertainty can be daunting for many, food allergies can be managed with the right information and preparation. Remember—it’s important to be careful, not fearful, when dealing with food allergies.

Be ready with emergency medication

Epinephrine is life-saving medication which is available to consumers in ready-to-use auto-injectors that contain a pre-measured dose of the drug. Currently, there are two on the market in Canada: EpiPen® and Twinject®.

Surprisingly, many people who have been advised by their physician to carry an auto- injector do not always have one with them or they hesitate to use it in an emergency. If you are at risk for anaphylaxis, make sure to have your auto-injector with you at all times and know when and how to use it. Accidents are never planned.

Keys to staying safe

As part of any good management plan, there are a number of safety measures that must be considered, whether you have food allergies yourself, or care for someone who does. Although the primary responsibility for managing allergies lies with the individual at risk, you need the support and understanding of others (e.g., friends, family, teachers).