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Stadium-sized peanut allergy awareness!

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Last weekend at the Northwestern University football game against the University of Minnesota Gophers, Ryan field in Chicago was “peanut free.”  The 50,000 seats were power washed and no peanuts snacks were served.

While many sporting venues have offered limited seating areas that are peanut-free for some restricted games, this may be the first time an entire football stadium was declared peanut safe.  I hesitate about using the term “peanut free” as this implies there is absolutely no peanut allergen.

Peanut allergy affects over 1% of children and can lead to severe and life-threatening allergic reactions termed anaphylaxis.   The prevalence is on the rise and the exact reason is not known.  So far this year, there have been at least 4 deaths from peanut anaphylaxis in the news and more from other allergies including milk and nuts.  I feel it’s important to remember these individuals by name; they are Natalie (age 13), Tanner (age 11), Cameron (age 19) and Jackie (age 35). Usually there are at least 10 deaths per year.  Since peanut anaphylaxis is not a reportable event, this number is likely an underestimate.  Thankfully, most allergic reactions do not result in death, but are treated successfully at home, school, Urgent Care clinics, ERs and medical offices.  While this is a small number compared to other causes of death, it’s important to recognize this for what it is; a tragedy for these families.

Peanut-allergic football fans could enjoy the game in Chicago, instead of worrying about peanut exposures.  However, food-allergic patients are still encouraged to carry their self-injectable epinephrine (EpiPen or Auvi-Q) in the event there is an accidental exposure.  They should also have a written anaphylaxis action plan and guidance from a trained, allergist.

Even though the Northwestern University Wildcats did not win the football game, Northwestern scored big in the hearts and minds of peanut-allergic patients.

At Family Allergy & Asthma Care of Montana, we provide testing and treatment recommendations for food-allergic individuals including those with peanut and nut-allergies.  Knowing what you are allergic to is only half the battle—knowing how and when to treat is key– knowing prevention strategies and having a plan is paramount.

This information is solely for informational purposes and not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional.

 

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