Frightening statistics reveal one in every 10 babies born in Australia will develop a food allergy. Australia has one of the highest reported incidences of food allergies in the world, and the numbers are growing at an alarming rate.
Food Allergy Week (FAW) aims to raise awareness of food allergies and is calling on all Australians to come together for a week in May (15th to 21st) to “Be Aware and Show You Care.” Being aware is essential because an allergic reaction can quickly become life threatening.
While the risk cannot be removed, it can be managed by knowing how to minimise the risk of a reaction and what to do if a reaction happens. Not only does this help in reducing hospitalisation rates, in some cases, it can potentially prevent the loss of a life.
What is a food allergy?
When the body mistakenly believes a food is harmful and elicits a response via the immune system, releasing chemicals that can trigger multiple symptoms and if left untreated these symptoms can be fatal. The most common food triggers include: eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, sesame, soy and wheat.
Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance
A food intolerance is generally less serious than a food allergy. It can occur if you have an enzyme deficiency (such as lactose intolerance) or a reaction to natural or artificial substances in foods. A food allergy can range from mild to more serious, and in some people can cause a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis. An-uh-fuh- what’s-this …? Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening form of allergy. It must be treated as an emergency and requires immediate medical attention. Over the last decade, hospital admissions for anaphylaxis have doubled in Australia.
What will a food allergy reaction look like?
Symptoms may affect a person’s breathing, digestion, skin and/or heart function. Although it can be unpredictable, symptoms can range from:
- Hives, welts or body redness.
- Swelling of the face, lips, eyes and/or tongue.
- Vomiting, abdominal pain and/or tingling in the mouth.
- Difficult and noisy breathing.
- Difficulty talking and/or hoarse voice.
- Wheeze and/or persistent cough.
- Persistent dizziness and/or collapse.
FAW 2016 has come up with some quirky activities to help raise awareness in 2016:
- Paint one nail to symbolise that one in 10 babies born in Australia today will develop a food allergy.
- Adopt an allergy for one day to better understand the challenges allergy sufferers face every single day.
- Download a badge to use through your social media channels.
- Join their Thunderclap to spread the word about the importance of understanding food allergy.
- Hold a local community event to raise awareness and/or funds.
- Make a donation.
Food Allergy Aware have a helpful infographic and other resources that can be found on their website.