Yes, it’s Food Allergy Awareness Week, a great time to educate others about the causes and dangers of anaphylaxis. But while awareness itself is a wonderful thing, it doesn’t mean a whole lot unless it motivates a change in behavior.
So pause for a moment and answer this one overriding question:
Did you remember to Take 2?
What we’re referring to, of course, is to always take 2 life-saving epinephrine auto-injectors along and having them on-hand wherever you go. Whether you’re relaxing at home, off to school, or just stepping outside to walk the dog, take 2 along everywhere… every time.
Why 2? Because a single dose may not be enough to halt the progression of anaphylaxis when you or your child suffers a severe allergic reaction. And you never want to be caught with too little epinephrine on-hand when a life depends on it.
So while you’re busy spreading awareness, be sure to heed the message. To help remind you and your loved ones, click here to download a collection of flyers from our Take 2 Campaign like the one below and be sure to hang them everywhere.
Because, let’s face it: awareness alone won’t stop anaphylaxis. Only epinephrine will.
The governor of Georgia, Nathan Deal, signed a bill into law last week allowing for stock epinephrine in places of public accommodation throughout the state.
SB 126 provides the legal framework for placement of epinephrine auto-injectors in restaurants, malls, camps, and other public establishments for use when anaphylaxis – a potentially fatal allergic reaction – is suspected. The bill also provides the necessary Good Samaritan immunity for trained individuals who administer the drug in good faith.
Georgia passed legislation allowing stock epinephrine for schools two years ago. SB 126 also provides for the prescription of stock levalbuterol sulfate and albuterol sulfate (typically used in asthma “rescue inhalers”) for use in schools when a victim suffers severe respiratory distress such as wheezing, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing.
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The May edition of the Allergic Living News Report – dedicated to Food Allergy Awareness Month – features a free, must-read e-booklet entitled: “18 Things You Need to Know About Food Allergy Reactions”.
This resource as especially valuable for families coping with food allergies as well as teachers, school nurses, restauranteurs, and everyone else that deals with the public in a setting involving food. Distributed as an easy-to-download PDF that can be viewed on your PC, tablet and phone, it provides a summary of important facts, strategies, and statistics to keep in mind should you or a loved one experience (or suspect) an anaphylactic reaction. The publication is structured in an easy-to-read read conversational format and covers many topics such as “Severe reactions: are they rare or frequent?”, “Define anaphylaxis”, and “When antihistamines don’t measure up”.
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“An Act relating to the maintenance and administration of epinephrine in schools and certain other facilities” was signed into into law by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad on Friday.
Senate File 462 provides for:
- Licensed healthcare professionals to prescribe epinephrine auto-injectors in the name of an accredited school or district;
- Schools to obtain stock epinephrine for administration by trained personnel;
- “Good Samaritan” provisions to indemnify such personnel from liability when administering epinephrine in good faith;
- Students to self carry and self administer epinephrine when necessary.
Unfortunately, the new law does not mandate schools obtain stock epinephrine and provides no funding for them to do so.
By now you’ve probably read the Allergic Living article about two families that have filed lawsuits after losing their sons to anaphylaxis. The details are horrific, as they always are when a child is taken by allergic reactions.
In one case, a boy of 16 from Minnesota died from an anaphylactic reaction when it turned out the pancake he was eating at a restaurant was contaminated with milk. The family did not have his auto-injectors on-hand and had to rush him home, but by then it was too late.
In the other, an 11 year old Alabama boy died from a severe reaction to a supermarket cookie. Though an employee assured the family that the cookie contained no tree nuts, it did in fact contain walnuts. His mother administered Benadryl once the symptoms presented themselves and at some point afterward administered his auto-injector, but despite being airlifted to the hospital he could not be resuscitated.
These deaths are every parent’s nightmare, especially for those of us who are part of the community of kids with food allergies. But if there is anything to be redeemed from these tragedies, it is what can be learned to prevent them from happening to other children.
With no disrespect or judgement meant for the grieving parents of these boys, and knowing nothing more about the circumstances that lead to their reactions, let’s remind ourselves of what we can do to prevent occurrences similar to these in the future.
On February 23rd at this year’s annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) in Houston, a study was presented regarding incidence of anaphylaxis in schools during the 2013-2014 school year, confirming the need for stock epinephrine.
Of 5683 schools that responded to the study survey, a total of 919 anaphylactic events were reported by 11% of the schools. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Congratulations to the people of New Jersey with the signing of A304/S801 – NJ’s stock epinephrine bill – into law by Governor Chris Christie.
Epinephrine is the only drug used to treat anaphylaxis, a life threatening allergic reaction. “Stock” refers to epinephrine that is not specifically prescribed to an individual but can be used on anyone that is displaying symptoms of anaphylaxis.
We’re fighting a war out there… a war against anaphylaxis. If you have a severe allergy or care for someone who does, you’re on the front lines. So put on your helmet, be vigilant, and don’t forget your only weapon against the enemy: your epinephrine auto-injector.
Take 2 along everywhere… every time.
No doubt you’ve already broken a New Year’s resolution or two if you’re like us. (Though we do vow to get to the gym more often… eventually. No, really!)
Here’s our New Year’s resolution list for parents and caretakers of children with food allergies. These are much too important to break, and we hope you’ll join us in resolving to make 2015 a safe and happy year – with no mention of “child” and “anaphylaxis” in the same headline!
A study of 102 patients enrolled from adult and pediatric clinics showed that only 16% used their epinephrine auto-injectors correctly. Of the remaining 84%, more than half missed 3 or more steps for proper administration.
The most common errors included:
- Failure to hold the unit in place for at least 10 seconds after triggering
- Failure to place the needle end of the device on the thigh, and
- Failure to depress the device forcefully enough to activate the injection.
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