May is Food Allergy Awareness Month, a time to create awareness among the general public, and reduce the number of deaths caused by food allergies. Eating with caution is a way of life for nearly 15 million Americans living with food allergies.

Living with a life-threatening medical condition is no doubt challenging, especially for children, who are among those with the greatest increase of food allergies. According to a 2013 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, food allergies among children increased nearly 50 percent between 1997 and 2011. Food Allergy and Research Education (FARE) estimates that is about two kids in every class.

The complexity of food allergies can keep anyone on guard before taking a bite, but part of an allergy plan includes avoiding the allergen in question and carrying an epinephrine auto injector. A food allergy reaction can cause symptoms that range from mild to life-threatening. In the United States, food allergy is the leading cause of severe, life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) outside the hospital setting. Epinephrine auto-injector devices are used for the emergency treatment of potentially life-threatening anaphylactic reactions, and each has a unique design and operating instructions for use under stressful conditions. Therefore, it is critical that these agents be administered quickly and correctly, without the added confusion caused by the patient or caregiver being unfamiliar with a product.

It is advised that allergic patients carry two epinephrine auto injectors at all times. Of course, because these life-saving devices contain medication, they do not have an indefinite shelf life. Those who carry epinephrine must properly dispose of their devices once the device has expired or if it has ever been used.

Epinephrine Auto Injector Disposal

The safest way to dispose of epinephrine is to bring it back to your health care provider for disposal in a sharps container. They can also be taken to a supervised collection site. These sites may include hospitals, pharmacies, health departments, medical waste facilities, and police or fire stations.

Supporting others with food allergies takes more than having the law on your side; it also takes having people on your side. During this month, advocate for inclusion and promote safe eating to help anyone managing food allergies.

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