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Health Information For Teens
Gillian loves to travel, and she’s determined not to let her food allergies stop her. She says feelings of awkwardness and worry about her food allergy have faded as she gets older. Now she doesn’t hesitate to ask questions about food, no matter where she is. She knows that ignoring her food allergy could lead to a bad reaction — and draw a lot more attention to her, not to mention put her in some serious (and vacation-wrecking) danger.
Yes, people with life-threatening food allergies really can take off on weekend road trips, spend a summer abroad, or vacation in the wilderness. It just takes confidence and planning.
Planning a trip can be stressful for anyone. But people with food allergies may feel particularly anxious about leaving their familiar home environments. It’s easy to understand why: Not only do people have to stay safe in a new place, but they also have to handle any social concerns that arise, like asking for special accommodations, avoiding certain activities or places, or explaining the need to prepare and eat their own food.
Even among friends, people can sometimes feel embarrassed or uncomfortable raising food allergy concerns. So it’s natural to worry that it might feel even more awkward in a new environment or culture.
Perhaps the best way to boost confidence and calm nerves is to research and plan your trip thoroughly. Think ahead. Instead of trying to push worries aside, use them as a guide to prepare yourself for the kinds of situations you might face in a new place. Remind yourself that your anxiety is real — and understandable.
You already know how to manage your food allergies — you do it every day. The strategies that help you cope at home can work well on trips too.
Think about what kinds of situations might come up and how to deal with them. Talk through any worries with supportive friends and family who will be joining you on the trip. Not only can they help you avoid risky situations, they can also be your emotional support system.
If you’re traveling overseas, talk to someone who understands the country’s traditions and culture to get tips on how to manage your allergy and still fit in.
If someone other than you or your family (like a teacher or friend’s parent) is organizing your trip, be sure that person is clear on what your needs are. Be sure that he or she understands enough about food allergies to look out for you.
Planning ahead can help you feel less anxious about what could go wrong and more excited about the adventure ahead. Start a couple of weeks to a month in advance by making a detailed to-do list.
If you’re going abroad and speak the language, talk directly to grocery store, restaurant, and hotel managers. If language is a barrier, or you just need more answers, seek help from food allergy organizations, travel agents, trip coordinators, or local friends and relatives. Prepare a list of questions before making your calls and take careful notes.
For air travel, research airlines in advance. Some airlines are more accommodating than others when it comes to food allergies. Call and discuss your needs well before you make reservations. Ask for a safe snack, but bring your own food along just in case. Ask if you can board early so you can wipe down your seating area without holding other travelers up. When you board, remind the flight crew of your needs. If it helps you feel more comfortable, ask that they alert other passengers to your allergy.
If you will be eating out, carry a personalized “chef card.” These cards detail your allergies and help kitchen staff understand how to prepare a safe meal for you. Chef card forms are readily available, in many different languages, through food allergy websites. But the card is not a substitute for direct communication. It’s best to speak directly with your waiter and possibly the chef when you eat out.
Staying alert, taking precautions, and carrying meds are just part of normal life for someone who has a food allergy. Once you’ve done it once or twice, traveling with food allergies will feel perfectly routine. You feel less like you’re “traveling with food allergies” and more like you’re simply “traveling.”
With careful planning, travel can be liberating and help you feel more independent. You’ll learn just how good you are at taking care of yourself.
Quick action is essential during a serious allergic reaction. It helps to remind yourself of action steps so they become second nature if there’s an emergency. Here’s what to do.
Although food allergies are more common than ever, people who have them may feel different or embarrassed. A good friend can really help.
Shellfish allergies can be serious – and shellfish can appear in some surprising foods and products. Read about shellfish allergy and what to do when a reaction is severe.
With food allergies, preventing a reaction means avoiding that food entirely. But sometimes allergens can be hidden in places you don’t expect. Here are tips on living with a food allergy.
Your eyes itch, your nose is running, you’re sneezing, and you’re covered in hives. The enemy known as allergies has struck again.
Peanuts are one of the most common allergy-causing foods, and they often find their way into things you wouldn’t imagine. Learn the facts on living with a nut or peanut allergy.
A person with severe allergies can be at risk for a sudden, serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This reaction can seem scary, but the good news is it can be treated.
Doctors are diagnosing more and more people with food allergies. Knowing what to expect and how to deal with food allergies can make a big difference in preventing serious illness.
Living with an egg allergy means you have to be aware of what you’re eating and read food labels carefully. Here are some tips for teens who have an egg allergy.
Doctors use several different types of allergy tests, depending on what a person may be allergic to. Find out what to expect from allergy tests.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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