When Food Bites Back

It’s a beautiful May day. The sky’s a deep pregnant blue, the sun smiling bright and true. The flowers, they flourish and dance in the wind, flashing colours of every hue.

After a long day you’re headed to a friend’s place to relax and bask in the lazy spring air. They offer you fresh-baked cookies –  your greatest gastronomical weakness! Your heart compels you to accept. As you bite into the warm, soft, center, molten chocolate oozes into your mouth. Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, the flavour is mind-blowing. What a beautiful May day.

Moments later, at the back of your throat, a malignant itch erupts. It spreads to your tongue and your throat. A seeping sense of illness spreads throughout your body. Cold sweat bursts along your forehead. You feel weak. You tremble. You fall. What’s happening? What do you do?

May day. Mayday. M’aider.

Food Allergy Awareness Month (FAAM)

May is Food Allergy Awareness Month.  A month that recognizes the need to create a safe environment surrounding the activity we all must do to survive: eat.

With symptoms varying from a mild itch, to hives, or even death… all food allergies and anaphylaxis must be treated seriously.

Food allergies and anaphylaxis currently affect 1 in 13 Canadians, representing approximately 3 MILLION people. That’s even more than all the people in Toronto!

Moreover, researchers at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre are finding that the rate of food allergies among Canadians is increasing. Equally alarming is the apparent lack of awareness, where almost 50% of anaphylaxis victims do not receive a dose of life-saving epinephrine prior to entering the emergency department, rendering treatment more difficult.

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The increasing population at risk and the lack of awareness indicates that it’s important for us to spread knowledge and understanding about food allergies (and substance sensitivities in general)!

How iamsick.ca is Allergy Aware

If you have a food allergy, you’re not alone!  Many members of the iamsick.ca team are affected by food allergies too! From peanuts to eggplants, chickpeas to lychees, and even bananas to watermelons, we’ve (unfortunately) got it all… It’s really no question that we’d want to participate in FAAM!

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Unsure how to embark on the journey to awareness?

iamsick.ca has you covered:

  • If you or any of your family members have experienced discomfort while eating a food and think it may be food allergy, please visit an allergist! Allergists need referrals, so use the iamsick.ca website or app to book an appointment with your family doctor or find the nearest walk-in clinic to get your referral now!
  • Need a fresh or refilled autoinjector? You can also use iamsick.ca to locate the closest pharmacy. Even if you need to find one in the middle of the night, iamsick.ca will show the nearest open pharmacy!
  • In the (unlikely) event that you’re transporting someone with an allergic reaction requiring emergency medical attention, you can use iamsick.ca to find the exact location of the emergency department of nearby hospitals so treatment may be received ASAP!

How Else Can You Help?

There are plenty of things you can do to raise awareness about food allergy:

  • Learn how and when to use an epinephrine auto-injector
  • Make sure you always ask someone about food allergies before serving them food
  • Make a donation to Food Allergy Canada
  • Try baking some allergy-friendly cookies
  • Talk to your friends and share what you know
  • Anything else that would help spread awareness of food allergies!

A Reminder About the Upcoming May Long Weekend

Victoria Day is coming up (May 23rd), which means that it’s a long weekend to celebrate with family and friends! It also means that many healthcare service providers will have reduced hours of operation. If you need to access healthcare services this upcoming long weekend, or you’d like to check the holiday hours of a nearby local pharmacy or clinic, make sure to check out iamsick.ca!

Sources:

http://www.allergen-nce.ca/wp-content/uploads/SPAACE_prevalence_data.pdf

https://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/channels/news/increasing-cases-anaphylaxis-among-children-260563