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How to Manage Your Child's Life-Threatening Food Allergies
By Linda Marienhoff Coss

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How to Manage Your Child's Life-Threatening Food Allergies

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How to Manage Your Child's Life-Threatening Food Allergies
Practical Tips for Everyday Life
By Linda Marienhoff Coss
Plumtree Press, (2004)
Standard Print - ISBN: 0-9702785-1-9
Genre: Health, Allergies

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - July 8, 2004

The world of food allergies can be a scary and daunting environment in which to navigate. This is especially true when the individual with the food allergy is a child. A food allergy occurs when the body mistakenly thinks that an otherwise harmless protein in a given food is actually a harmful invader, and initiates an immune response. The allergic reaction can be relatively mild, such as hives or watery eyes but it can also be deadly. To date, there is no cure for any food allergy. The only course of action that food allergy sufferers can take is to religiously avoid the foods, which they are allergic to.

So, what are parents to do if they think, or know, that their child has a food allergy? The first step is most likely a trip to the pediatrician's office, and from there, most likely, a trip to visit an allergist. An allergist can do several different types of tests to determine if the child has any allergies, and if so to what. From there you need to start doing your homework, and a good place to start is Linda Marienhoff Coss' primer on food allergies, How to Manage Your Child's Life-Threatening Food Allergies: Practical Tips for Everyday Life.

One of Coss' son has multiple food allergies. At one time he could not eat anything containing eggs, milk products, or nuts. She has more than ten years of experience dealing with this difficult situation. In other words, she's been there, and done that. In this book she imparts the information that she has learned along the way. She shares the numerous coping strategies and skills that she has learned, ranging from how to cook for a child with food allergies, to how to deal with emotional impact of learning that your child has a potentially life-threatening allergy. Coss is also the founder a food-allergy support group. She has also written a cookbook, The Milk-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook that will be of interest to anyone dealing with food allergies!

The text is divided into fifteen thematic chapters covering topics such as how to eat safely in a restaurant, grocery shopping, socializing, making your home a 'safe haven' for your child, teaching others about your child's allergies, how to choose an appropriate preschool, and how to work with school officials to make your child's school experience as safe as possible. Handy tips and checklists are provided throughout, as well as real life examples of how Coss, and others, dealt with similiar situations. Most important, Coss details how to prepare for, and treat Anaphylaxis. Individuals with food allergies are at risk of a severe, life-threatening, allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis. Coss explains the symptoms of anaphylaxis, the seriousness of the condition, and available treatment options. Normally this means using a self-injecting device that delivers a single dose of epinephrine, and then getting the child to the hospital for further treatment. The most common self-injector in use today is called the EpiPen®. Coss explains how to use and care for an EpiPen®. She also offers tips how to prepare for getting your child to the hospital in the fastest manner possible.

The appendices of this book also contain a host of useful information and forms ranging from a wheat free recipe for play dough and several How to read a label charts for specific food allergies to a sample script to use when calling the rescue squad and a sample letter for authorization, from your doctor, to carry an EpiPen® on a commercial airliner.

Encyclopedic in scope, this informative book is essential reading for anyone dealing with a child with a food allergy, be they a parent, relative, teacher, neighbor, or care giver. The book is written in a friendly style with clear and easy to understand descriptions of all medical / technical terms. The text deals with food allergies of every ilk, including allergies associated with eggs, milk products, peanuts, shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, and more. Important information is provided on how to read food labels, to help ensure that you do not give your child any potentially dangerous food stuffs.

Although written specifically for parents of children with food allergies, the information contained in this text is also applicable to adults with food allergies. In addition, this book was written for an international, English-speaking audience. While the main text offers information from an American perspective, Coss also provides country specific information and tips that are tailored for residents of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and United Kingdom.

Food allergies can affect every aspect of a child's life. Not only must the parent be ever vigilant to ensure that the child remains safe from what most others would consider wholesome foods, but they also have to teach their child how to care for themselves - including how to give themselves an injection of epinephrine if they have a reaction. Food allergies can take not only an emotional and physical toll, but as with any medical condition or illness, it can also take a financial toll as well.

Living with a food allergy is not, however, all doom and gloom. In How to Manage Your Child's Life-Threatening Food Allergies: Practical Tips for Everyday Life Coss not only offers information about the specifics of food allergies, but she also provides information about support groups, where you can go online to find more information about food allergies, and she provides a ready example of the fact that is possible to raise a healthy, well-adjusted child - a child who just happens to be allergic to some foods. If nothing else, this book illustrates how, if you arm yourself with detailed information about the causes and treatment of food allergies, and by taking due care to minimize the risk of accidental contact or ingestion of a food allergen, a child can live a relatively normal life - with the exception that they have to be scrupulous about staying away from those foods that their bodies have declared war against.

Visit our Food Allergy Link Page for a list of resources and additional information related to food allergies.

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