Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Teens and Food Allergies: Resources for This Risky Time

Just a few weeks ago, we celebrated my daughter's 13th birthday and new "teendom." I know that many of you are facing the same thing, so I posted about some of my concerns and attempts to prepare my own child for future independence and self-advocacy as a young adult.

Earlier this week, a tragic story out of Massachusetts showed us that food allergies can indeed be fatal for teens. A 19-year-old young man lost his life due to an apparent peanut allergy reaction. This story is still unfolding, so it's not clear exactly why events unfolded the way that they did in this case.  When these tragedies occur, everyone wants to figure out the exact circumstances so they can avoid the same tragedy. I understand that completely, but we don't always know. I'm very sorry to hear of any young life lost in this way and my deepest sympathies are with his family.

If you hear stories like these and they cause you to feel afraid and helpless for your own child, please take heart. Education and awareness work--it's a proven fact. The more someone knows about potentially fatal reactions and the more prepared you are if one occurs (and they do--you never know when an accident or mistake will happen)--the better.

Obviously, teens need to carry their medication, know the symptoms of an allergic reaction and know how to avoid these reactions.  Teens need access to facts they can explore on their own and they need to know that they are not alone.As parents and relatives, we also need to know what to do if they need help.

Luckily, many resources exist for teens with food allergies (and their parents). If you have a teen with a food allergy (or will have one someday), if you know a teen with a food allergy or you just want help understanding how you can steer your young adult in the right direction, please check out the following links. I've found all of them extremely helpful and I hope you will, too.

Article about food-allergic teens from the web site Healthy Child: This article explores the many issues faced by teens with personal stories and great information. I highly recommend reading it.

FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) teen resources section: Includes a video with teens talking about their allergies and lots of good information for coping.

Why Risk It site: This Canadian-based resource has a variety of info specifically for teens and the issues they face, like dating, risk-taking and peer pressure. (A reader recently reminded me about this, so thank you!)

Anaphylaxis Canada: This site has a comprehensive section on teens, including a video discussing how to talk to your date about what they ate before kissing. Awkward! But necessary.

Allergic Living Magazine: Section on teens, high school and college has many great articles available online.

If you have a teen, what do think has been your best teaching resource so far?

No comments: