Allergies: In a Nut Shell

nutOverall, food allergies affect nearly 15 million people in the United States. Peanut & tree nut allergies alone affect 3 million Americans, a number that, for unknown reasons, has risen 18% since 1997. Food allergy reactions can affect any of the four following areas of the body:
Skin: itchy red bumps (hives); eczema; redness & swelling of the face or extremities; itching & swelling of the lips, tongue or mouth.
Gastrointestinal tract: abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

Respiratory tract: runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath.
Cardiovascular system: lightheadedness or fainting.
An allergic reaction happens when someone's immune system mistakenly believes that something harmless, such as a tree nut or peanut, is harmful. The immune system responds by creating antibodies to proteins in that food. These antibodies are designed to fight off the "invading" proteins. Trace amounts of these proteins can be the cause and can come from consumption, contact and rarely respiratory exposure.
A serious allergic reaction with widespread effects on the body is known as anaphylaxis. This sudden, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction involves two or more of the body areas listed above. There can be swelling of the airway, serious difficulty with breathing, a drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness and, in some cases, even death. No medication can cure food allergies, so treatment usually means avoiding the allergen and all the foods that contain it. At Inter-Lakes and at many schools across the country, “nut safe” zones have been created. “Nut-free” schools can provide a false sense of security that everything in a building is safe. However, it has been proven that nut-safe zones can be effective and are necessary in keeping those affected by nut/peanut allergies safe. Awareness is key.
We strive to make our learning environment safe for all students. If you have received an allergy alert letter, we ask that you speak with your child about keeping their friends safe at school and by not sending foods containing nuts/peanuts to school. Also, hand washing with soap & water, especially after eating nut products, will help avoid the hidden exposures to trace proteins. Hand sanitizers do not remove nut residue and are not effective. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation.
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