In the United States, food allergies have steadily increased among Americans in the past several decades. There is ongoing research being done to figure out why there is this increase and what we can do to make changes for future generations. In the healthcare field, it is important to be aware of food allergies and how these can affect our patients and their care. If you are providing direct patient care, allergies are usually listed in a patients chart or in relation to their meals. In these instances, food allergy symptoms can be prevented or avoided by not ingesting the allergen. However, it is best practice to be sensitive to all potential food allergies and treat all patients with care.
There are several ways you can ensure your patients’ food allergies are controlled in your healthcare setting.
- Ask your patient about their food allergies. Just because it is not documented, does not mean they do not have an allergy.
- Be aware of common food allergy symptoms. Food allergies can show up in the form of skin irritation such as a rash and can manifest internally such as a stomachache or diarrhea. Food allergies can range from mild to life threatening and it is important to therefore also be aware of how your patient reacts to their allergy.
- Be aware of common foods that cause allergies. Some of the most common food allergies include and are not limited to peanuts, milk, shellfish, nuts, wheat, eggs, and soy.
- Follow your healthcare sanitization policies and ensure you are washing your hands after handling foods or wearing gloves when appropriate.
Below are additional resources to learn more about food allergies.