Teens in the Real World
  Food Allergies in the Real World  

After a Reaction Occurs

Don't you sometimes wish life had a "rewind" button so that you could go back and do something all over again? Until we can upgrade our lives to version 2.0, which includes the handy rewind feature, we'll just have to settle for learning from our mistakes the old-fashioned way.

No matter how careful you are to avoid foods you are allergic to, accidents can, and do, happen. Pinpointing what went wrong and how can help you avoid making the same mistake again and can spare you a future reaction.

Understand how the reaction occurred. Sometimes the cause of a reaction is apparent. Maybe you missed the ingredient on a label, or maybe you took a chance with a high-risk food, such as eating a homemade cookie or brownie at a friend's house.

Other times, it may not be as easy to figure out what caused your symptoms, and you may need to do a little investigative work. When 13-year-old Courtney began having a mild allergic reaction every day in French class, she couldn't figure out what was causing it. After talking with her parents and piecing together the day's events, Courtney remembered that her French teacher required the students to shake her hand as they entered the room.

Courtney and her parents concluded that someone must have eaten peanut butter at lunch and then shook the teacher's hand before Courtney did, causing her to have symptoms. After talking with her teacher, they agreed that Courtney wouldn't shake her teacher's hand anymore. Courtney hasn't had a reaction in class since then.

Plan to prevent a reaction from happening again. Maybe avoiding another reaction is as simple as slowing down and taking the time to read ingredient labels carefully or avoiding high-risk foods or situations. Or perhaps, as in Courtney's case, you'll need the cooperation of others to help keep you safe. No matter what, it's important that you take steps to avoid making the same mistake again.

Finally, if you needed epinephrine to control your reaction, be sure to refill your prescription and remember to always carry your meds with you.

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