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Food Allergies: The Financial Strain on Families

With more and more people getting diagnosed with food allergies we are seeing the financial toll it is taking on families. I am surprised to meet so many guest that are getting diagnose with food allergies late in life. I see more and more people over the age of 40 tell me they were recently diagnosed with food allergies. They had been eating fine all their lives and then suddenly they are allergic to food. My concern then starts to move towards the foods that we are eating. With so many chemicals and byproducts that we have introduced to foods over the recent years it doesn’t surprise me that our food is now killing us.

Those with food allergies the cost of watching what you eat can be very expensive. I want to share with you this article that I found about the financial the financial strain on families that have food allergies.

A DEBATE has broken out over how many people in this country really have food allergies. But whatever the numbers, parents whose children have serious reactions to certain foods can attest to the distress — and high financial costs — such allergies can cause.

Just ask the Delgadillo family of San Diego. The day Oscar put a little dab of peanut butter on his year-old son Andrew’s tongue was the day everything changed. Andrew immediately broke out in hives, his throat started to swell and he began wheezing and having trouble breathing.

Mr. Delgadillo and his wife, Martha, raced their child to the emergency room for treatment. Andrew, now 11, had experienced the first of what would be several severe allergic reactions to a variety of foods.

As the months and years went by, the Delgadillos learned that Andrew had multiple food allergies that included a life-threatening reaction to peanuts (but not tree nuts) and a severe reaction to soy, milk, egg, shellfish and other foods.

Even the smallest exposure to peanuts — a classmate eats a granola bar for breakfast at home, does not wash his hands, then touches Andrew — can cause at least a mild reaction.

Andrew’s allergies have also led to a rare inflammatory disease of the esophagus. His diet is so limited that he must be tube-fed to make sure he gets the nutrition he needs.

“He is a healthy, happy boy with rosy cheeks,” said Mr. Delgadillo. “But every day at 12:15 he heads to the nurse’s office for a feeding.”

In a study published earlier this week, research commissioned by the federal government found that while 30 percent of the population say they believe they have a food allergy, only about 8 percent of children and less than 5 percent of adults actually have one.

But for families like the Delgadillos, true food allergies can require careful navigation of everyday life and create all sorts of extra expenses.

Grocery shopping can mean weekly trips to four or five health food stores and multiple Internet sites to find allergen-free cereals, baked goods and other products.

Diligent research is an everyday task.

“You know that brand of mild soap products called Cetaphil?” Mr. Delgadillo asks. “Well, it turns out the moisturizer has macadamia nut oil in it. You have to check absolutely everything.”

Mr. Delgadillo, whose family has insurance coverage under his employer’s health plan, estimates they spend an extra $400 a month in the form of co-payments and other out-of-pocket medical bills, special foods and medicines.

“I’m an engineer, and I need to quantify things for my own sake,” said Mr. Delgadillo. “So I’ve taken a good look at this.”

Families with food allergies can also incur financial strains because constant monitoring for dangerous foods often means one spouse stops working or significantly cuts back on hours, said Dr. Tamara T. Perry, a researcher at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute.

“The loss of income and the additional costs associated with food allergies can have a significant financial impact,” Dr. Perry said.

There are three main financial challenges for families with food allergies. Here is advice on how to go about managing them:

A CLEAR DIAGNOSIS Pinpointing a food allergy is not easy. In most cases, doctors use a skin prick test during which they inject a small amount of a food under the skin to see if swelling or other symptoms occur within an hour or so. Also common are blood tests that show whether the body is making antibodies to fight certain foods.

But both tests generate a large number of false positives, said Matthew Fenton, chief of the asthma, allergy and inflammation branch of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, a unit of the federal National Institutes of Health.

The most reliable test is called a food challenge. It entails gradually exposing the individual to the suspected foods through the skin and mouth to see what type of reaction is produced. This can take a series of days and must be done in a setting close to an emergency facility.

Food challenges can be expensive because of the time and expertise involved, Mr. Fenton explained. Not all insurance covers these elaborate tests.

Another big problem is that not all doctors approach food allergies the same way.

“Your dermatologist, family doctor, pediatrician and allergist may all be on a different page in terms of how they classify and diagnose food allergies,” Mr. Fenton said. That can mean a lot of extra or unnecessary testing and doctor visits.

The national institute plans to release soon a comprehensive list of clinical guidelines for food allergies that can be used across all medical specialties and that may be a useful tool for parents and adult food allergy sufferers.

Patients and parents can check in with patient advocacy groups like the Food Allergy Initiative and the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network for the latest research on all types of food allergies and intolerances.

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Why do you think people are suffering from more allergic reactions than in the past? Share you comments below.

Cheers to Your Optimal Health!

Katrina van Oudheusden


June 20, 2010 - Posted by | Food Allergies, Health, Nutrition | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. some of the health foods that i always eat are those gluten free foods”~~

    Comment by LCD Protector : | October 28, 2010 | Reply

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