Dr. Andy

Reflections on medicine and biology among other things

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The psychological toll of food allergies

Allergists and pediatricians are aware that food allergies lead to a lot of worry for parents. The psychological burden can be overwhelming, for reasons that aren't entirely clear. Unlike asthma, where many families can't be bothered to stick to a medication regimen, some paretns, especially mothers, seem overwhelmed by anxiety with food allergies. I'd guess the difference is that food allergies seem entirely controllable: if you (or your child) avoid the food entirely there will be no symptoms. Asthma on the other hand comes and goes; even patients who faithfully take their medicine will have symtpoms sometimes.

Just how burdensome food allergies are is made clear by this study
more than 60% of caregivers reported that food allergy significantly affected meal preparation and 49% or more indicated that food allergy affected family social activities. Forty-one percent of parents reported a significant impact on their stress levels and 34% reported that food allergy had an impact on school attendance, with 10% choosing to home school their children because of food allergy.
It is a small study (87 families) and there may be some selection bias (the more worried the parent the more likely they are to fill out a tedious questionnaire), but still, 10% homeschooled because of food allergies is an enormous number. I know many families who won't eat out because of concerns of inadvertant exposure. I usually try to get this type of parent to relax a bit, at least to the point of eating out, always checking with the kitchen to make sure the food is safe.


At 10:57 PM, Blogger girl MD said...

Food allergies are a huge deal. I doubt that the 10% would be replicated in a larger study, but likely the parental anxiety would hold up.
I am always amazed at the fact that we have peanut butter available on the inpatient ward where I work. Given the statistics, there have to have been peanut-allergic kids admitted. How is it that this has not caused a problem?

At 7:47 PM, Blogger ollie said...

I became interested in food allergies when I found out that my wife had seliac disease.

She cannot have any food that has even a trace of wheat in it; she gets lots of intestional distress if she does.

So that has changed where we eat and has made food bills go up a bit.

she also has chronic asthma (yeah, she is one who keeps health insurance premiums so high) so I'll have to ask her which of her conditions causes more anxiety.

At 12:05 AM, Blogger Check My Tag said...

My 2 year old son had his first anaphylactic reaction about a year ago and I was overwhelmed with the thought that the world suddenly became a hundred times more dangerous for him. I can relate to your post about the psychological toll of food allergies. And, the fact that the reasons for worry are not clear. Part of it is certainly concern over food safety for my son. At the same time, I am determined not to let this condition prevent him from being a normal kid, experiencing as much of life as other toddlers. I created Check My Tag (www.checkmytag.com) for this reason. I wanted to be proactive about managing his condition and ease my own mind about his safety when he was not in my immediate care. I want to provide this same peace of mind for other parents.

At 4:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could the difference in perception and anxiety be due also to the fact that, according to surveys such as GAPP, patients routinely underestimate the seriousness of asthma? Many seem to be not fully aware that a life-threatening episode is possible even with 'mild' asthma. Also, 'steroid phobia' is a problem in asthma management but doesn't apply to food allergy.

At 11:59 PM, Anonymous online blogger said...

It's true the foods are getting dangerous to childrens nowdays especially those vegetables are toxicated. Those who are more allergy prone to this kind of foods should avoid it.

At 6:45 AM, Anonymous Term Papers said...

I am determined not to let this condition prevent him from being a normal kid, experiencing as much of life as other toddlers. I created Check My Tag (www.checkmytag.com) for this reason.

At 9:48 PM, Anonymous How To Get Rid Of Bad Breath said...

i'm allergy to prawn .. very itch

At 1:15 AM, Anonymous klonopin vs xanax comparison data said...

make sure our food s safe... have a regular med checkup... u will be okay

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