“The best thing to do is plan ahead. Though you can’t plan for everything, being prepared will help keep your child safe and limit your holiday stress. We all know we have enough of it anyway,” said Dr. Sean Cahill, associate of professor of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
One of the most important tips is to keep your child’s hands and the surfaces your child touches as clean as possible. Research is showing that dangerous allergic reactions are not caused by inhaled airborne nut particles. Instead, a reaction occurs when a child touches a surface that has been exposed to a nut and then ingests the particles.
“Also remember a peanut allergy is not limited to peanuts. Some people with a peanut allergy are allergic to numerous types of nuts and seeds, and nut allergies are often seen in kids with other food allergies, like eggs, or in kids with asthma and eczema,” Cahill said.
Here are a few more tips:
* Pack snacks. Whether in a car or airport, you never know what will be available. Having your own snacks will help eliminate the guessing game concerning which foods are safe for your child to eat.
* Know your restaurants. Make sure you know how food at restaurants is prepared. For instance, though many fast-food chains cook their food in vegetable oil, there are a few that use peanut oil. Also, all pans, dishes and utensils that were used in preparing food with nuts must be thoroughly cleaned.
* In case of an emergency, be sure you have an EpiPen close at hand and antihistamine medications with you.
Tips for Air Travel:
Peanuts are the snack of choice for many airlines. As a result, the seats often contain traces of nuts.
* Bring sanitizing wipes. Before your children sits in their plane seats, wipe down all solid surfaces, including arm rests and tray tables, with sanitizing wipes to limit contact with nut residue.
* Put your child in a shirt and pants that cover the arms and legs. This will limit the amount of nut residue that will touch a child’s skin.
* You may need a note from your doctor. With increased security at airports this holiday season, be sure to bring a note from your doctor explaining the importance of having an EpiPen on hand.
Nut-allergy dangers don’t end when you arrive at your destination. It also is important to make sure you are prepared for where you are staying, especially if it’s with family.
“Holidays already are stressful for the person hosting, so be thoughtful and proactive in making sure the home is safe for your child,” Cahill said.
* Make contact early. When you know you will be staying at a person’s home, explain to them early on the severity of a nut allergy and how they can help you keep your child safe.
* Be specific. Give your hosts a list of specific items that could endanger your child and ask if the items can be removed. If not, ask your hosts to put the items out of reach or to lock them away.
* Do your own nut-proofing. If you have a small child, ask your host if you can take a look around to ensure your child won’t have access to nuts.
* Offer to help. As a way of helping your host and to make it less stressful, offer to bring nut-free snacks, make nut-free dishes for the dinner or purchase the groceries to create dishes that are safe for your child. Also make sure your child knows which dishes are safe or prepare your child’s plate.
“It’s also important to remind relatives that if they have eaten a product with nuts they should wash their hands and brush their teeth before hugging or kissing a child with a nut allergy,” Cahill said.
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Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, Loyola University Health System is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and 28 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus, Loyola University Hospital, is a 569-licensed-bed facility. It houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children’s Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola’s Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus in Melrose Park includes the 264-bed community hospital, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness and the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Care Center.