Nurse News

Food Allergies

Each year, millions of people have allergic reactions to food. Although most food allergies cause relatively mild and minor symptoms, some food allergies can cause severe reactions, and may even be life-threatening. There is no cure for food allergies. Strict avoidance of food allergens – and early recognition and management of allergic reactions to food – are important measures to prevent serious health consequences.


What are major food allergens?

While more than 160 foods can cause allergic reaction in people with food allergies, the law identifies the eight most common allergenic foods. These food account for 90 percent of food allergic reactions, and are the food sources from which many other ingredients are derived.

The eight foods identified are:
1.Milk, 2.Peanuts, 3.Wheat, 4.Eggs, 5.Soybeans, 6.Tree nuts, 7.Shellfish, 8.Fish



Do you know the signs of food allergy?

Food allergies can be life-threatening. The first step is to know what to look for. After eating some foods, does your child ever have any of these symptoms? Symptoms can come on suddenly, usually within minutes to a couple of hours after eating.

[Mild symptoms]

  • Nose: itchy/runny nose, sneezing
  • Skin: a few hives, mild itch
  • Gut: mild nausea/discomfort
  • Mouth: itchy mouth

[Severe symptoms] – which you should visit to ER, or call 119 for an ambulance

  • Lung: short of breath, wheezing, repetitive cough
  • Heart: pale, blue, faint, weak pulse, dizzy
  • Throat: tight, hoarse, trouble breathing, swallowing
  • Mouth: a lot of swelling of the tongue and/or lips
  • Skin: itchy skin rash over body, a lot of redness
  • Gut: vomiting


What to do if symptoms occur?

The appearance of symptoms after eating food may be a sign of a food allergy. The food(s) that caused these symptoms should be avoided, and the affected person, should contact a doctor or health care provider for appropriate testing and evaluation.

  • Persons found to have a food allergy should be taught to read labels and avoid the offending foods. They should also be taught, in case of accidental ingestion, to recognize the early symptoms of an allergic reaction, and be properly educated on – and armed with – appropriate treatment measures.
  • Persons with a known food allergy who begin experiencing symptoms while, or after, eating a food should initiate treatment immediately, and go to a nearby emergency room if symptoms progress.


Tips to make class party/events safe & Inclusive

  • Avoid using food when possible. (TIS is a NUT-FREE school.)
  • Ask your child’s teacher or school nurse about any food allergies in his/her classroom.
  • If not possible to eliminate all food, choose activities, and foods that allow all children to safely participate.
  • Try to engage parents of children with food allergies in event planning process.
  • Use individually wrapped and labeled foods at party/event. This helps prevent cross-contact and allows parents to read labels to ensure child safety.
  • Do not serve food to any child without parent knowledge and consent.
  • If food is served, try to keep it isolated to one area and encourage hand washing afterward.
  • Provide means for children to wash their hands, as necessary.


The Hard Facts:Severe Food Allergies Can Be Life-Threatening

Following ingestion of a food allergen(s), a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.

This can lead to:

  • Constricted airways in the lungs
  • Severe lowering of blood pressure and shock (“anaphylactic shock”)
  • Suffocation by swelling of the throat

Each year in Japan, it is estimated that anaphylaxis to food results in:

  • 30,000 emergency room visits
  • 2,000 hospitalizations
  • 150 deaths

Prompt administration of epinephrine by auto injector (e.g., Epi-pen) during early symptoms of anaphylaxis may help prevent these serious consequences.


Food Allergy Facts

  • 1 in 13 children has a food allergy
  • Food allergies can be life-threatening and need to be taken seriously
  • Strict avoidance of the food allergen is the only way to prevent a reaction
  • Children can be allergic to any food, but 90% of children are allergic to one or more of the following foods: milk, egg, peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy
  • Outside foods are a common cause of allergic reactions in the classroom
  • At TIS, we have 40 students who has a food allergy and 10 students has an Epi-pen at school.

Meg Kamei
TIS School Nurse