As someone who suffers with food allergies, I understand that dining out sometimes feels like an obstacle course. Friends and family members may not understand the importance of allergy avoidance. You can plan ahead by alerting them to any food allergy that you or your child may have. You could say, “We are looking forward to joining you at the restaurant for dinner, but we want you to be aware that little Timmy has a peanut allergy. ” You may wish to contact the manager at the restaurant to alert them to your child’s allergen before arriving. Ask what options are available.  Realize that many people don’t realize that food allergies can be more than annoying, that they can in fact be life-threatening.

Some restaurants, like Red Robin, have an interactive allergen menu online to assist you in planning your menu before you arrive. This is very helpful when preparing your child for the meal. Have a serious talk with your child before arriving at the restaurant. Alert your child to the potential dangers of consuming their allergen. Be sure that they understand that they need to ask a parent’s permission before eating anything. Always carry your child’s twin-pack epinephrine auto-injector in case of accidental ingestion emergencies.

Alert your wait staff when you arrive as to your child’s allergen. You can ask them to alert you to any dishes that may contain the allergen. Keep your purse or bag nearby with your child’s epinephrine auto-injector at hand. Usually allergies cause mild symptoms such as a runny nose and itchy, watery eyes, but a food allergy exposure can cause a life-threatening anaphylaxis reaction. Symptoms can include shortness of breath, swelling of the tongue, lips or throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and even hives. Allergies to food, insect stings and medication can be associated with this type of anaphylaxis reaction. Take any exposure to your child’s allergen seriously.

The twin-pack epinephrine auto-injectors are designed to inject into the child’s thigh through clothing in case of an emergent anaphylaxis type reaction. After injecting the epinephrine, dial 911 for emergent help. Anytime epinephrine is used, 911 should be called. If the ambulance does not arrive within a few minutes and the symptoms of anaphylaxis return, use the second epinephrine injector in the same manner as the first.

Although food allergies are serious, with careful planning they can be avoided. Be prepared and alert your host. Enjoy dining out and keep your twin-pack epinephrine auto-injector handy!

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