Merry Christmas – It’s Here!
I recently attended a professional association meeting in Denton, and one of my colleagues presented an inspirational to our group. I wanted to share it with you:
“This Christmas, mend a quarrel.
Write a love letter. Share some treasure.
Give a soft answer. Encourage youth.
Keep a promise. Find the time to forgive an enemy.
Listen. Apologize if you were wrong.
Think first of someone else. Be kind and gentle.
Laugh a little. Laugh a little more.
Express your gratitude. Gladden the heart of a child.
Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth.
Speak your love. Speak it again. Speak it once again.”
On another note, this is the season when many families consume foods that they might not normally prepare. Food allergies can be an issue for many people. Does your tongue itch when you eat shrimp or nuts? Does your stomach ache when you eat dairy products?
You may have food allergies…but, you might not. People often confuse food allergy with food intolerance. Food allergy affects the immune system and can range in reaction from mild to life-threatening –even if a tiny amount of the offending food is ingested, the allergic person can have a severe reaction. Food intolerance, however, is typically related to inability to metabolize an ingredient and is usually dose specific – meaning you can eat small amounts of the offending food without a reaction. The most common food allergies are milk, egg, peanut, tree nut (walnut, cashew, etc.), fish, shellfish (shrimp, crab, etc.), soy, and wheat. Recent epidemiologic studies sited in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology suggest that nearly 4% of Americans are afflicted with food allergies. Still, approximately 20% of the U.S. population alters their diet for a “perceived reaction,” which may or may not be food allergy.
If you suspect you have food allergy, the first thing you should do is see your doctor, says Extension Health Associate, Janet Pollard. You will likely be referred to an allergist or immunologist who specializes in such disorders. The allergist will likely perform a physical exam and ask for a detailed history. Without your help in discussing past symptoms and reactions, it is very difficult for the allergist to assess the potential culprits of the problem. Once your doctor has some ideas about what may be causing the symptoms, he/she will try to diagnose food allergy with some of the following measures:
- keep a written record of your diet and when you have a reaction.
- participate in an elimination diet, in which certain foods are taken completely out of the diet to see if it eliminates the symptoms.
- Performing a skin test, in which small amounts of a potential allergen are placed under the skin to see if it creates a local reaction.
- Performing a blood test, which is sent to a laboratory to see if food-specific Immunoglobin-E antibodies are present. These IgE antibodies suggest that your body thinks the food is a foreign agent and tries to fight it off, producing harmful chemicals such as histamine. Blood tests are typically expensive and used on those with severe reactions, since the other tests could result in a life-threatening reaction.
Common, mild symptoms of food allergy may include hives, swelling, itchy-red rash, eczema, itching or swelling of lips, cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, itchy-watery eyes, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, or wheezing. More severe symptoms can include shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, tightness of chest, itching or swelling of tongue or throat, change in voice, drop in blood pressure, fainting, and the most severe reaction –anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock can be fatal, either through swelling that shuts off the airway or through a dramatic drop in blood pressure.
If you are diagnosed with food allergy, it is important to learn how to manage your food allergy and to educate others. There is no cure for food allergy. The only way to manage food allergy is by strict avoidance of the offending food. To avoid the food you must read food labels and learn terminology that may be used on the label to identify said allergens; talk to your host, chef, or wait staff when dining away from home; educate others about cross-contamination and how to administer medications in an emergency, including antihistamine and epinephrine.
Master Wellness Volunteer Training
I offer this training every-other-year, and 2017 is the year! Participants in the Master Wellness Volunteer training will receive 40 hours of health and wellness education. Upon completion of the training, participants are expected to return 40 hours of volunteer service. There are numerous opportunities and methods for participants to volunteer within the program.
The training will be a combination of in-class and self-study education. It will include information on basic nutrition, food safety, health education, weight management, trends in health and nutrition, public speaking, and more. The training will take place on five consecutive Mondays, starting January 30, and ending February 27, at the Extension Office, 1200-B W. Houston Street, in Sulphur Springs. Cost is $50 for the entire course, which will cover the cost of the training, materials, and at least two lunches. Contact our office at 903-885-3443 for more information.
May the Lord bless you in the coming new year!