Avoid Food Allergies This Halloween

Halloween is a tough holiday for kids with food allergies. Between trick-or-treating and classroom parties, children are surrounded by goodies that could trigger an allergic reaction. The treats may contain nuts, dairy products, wheat, or other common allergens that could kick up symptoms, including rashes, hay fever, wheezing, asthma, and even life-threatening anaphylaxis.

Avoid Food Allergies This Halloween

(Pixabay / Efraimstochter)

Food allergies are increasing rapidly. Nearly 6 million kids in the U.S. are estimated to have food allergies. If your child is included in that figure, here are a few ideas for keeping Halloween fun and safe:

  1. Provide non-food treats. While other kids are amassing piles of candy, your child may feel left out. Give them exciting but safe alternatives such as small toys, stickers, or school supplies so that they have something to look forward to.
  2. Screen your kids’ candy. If your food-allergic kids go trick or treating, let them know that they should not eat anything until you have checked it first.
  3. Supervise parties. If your kids aren’t yet proficient at vetting food items for potential allergies, attend their parties so you can keep a close watch on what they eat. This is especially applicable if your child is very young or if they have severe allergies.
  4. Plan an alternate activity. If you would prefer to steer clear of trick or treating, plan a party at your place instead. You can still have treats out for attendees, but you can plan activities that don’t strictly revolve around food.

If you have a child with food allergies, you are likely sensitive to the needs of other kids in the same boat. Join the Teal Pumpkin Project to make the holiday easier on kids with food allergies. All you have to do is display a teal pumpkin outside of your home to let trick-or-treaters know that you are offering non-food treats. (Get free printables off the Internet.)

If food allergies are consistently cutting into your child’s quality of life, talk to your doctor. They can offer food allergy treatment. Doctors can order a food allergy test kit, examine the results and prescribe sublingual immunotherapy drops if appropriate. The drops contain allergen extracts and can help desensitize the body to trigger foods so that people can eat more of what they love without fear of reactions. Immunotherapy is the only treatment that has been shown to address the underlying allergy instead of just its symptoms. Ask your physician about milk, nut, or wheat allergy treatment.

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.