FARE Weighs In On Food Allergy Awareness Week

As you probably already know, this week is food allergy awareness week.  Today I’m honored to have a guest post from Mike Spigler, Vice President of Education of FARE.  FARE (formerly FAAN) is a one-stop shop for the caregiver of a child with food allergies.  They offer so many grass roots and nation-wide opportunities for YOU to become involved in the food allergy community.  I don’t know what we’d do without them!

Thanks so much to Mike and Nancy for this fabulous post!

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A Guest Blog Post by Mike Spigler, Vice President of Education of FARE

Mike Spigler of FARE

Greetings! I’d like to thank Kimberly for the opportunity to be a guest blogger during this momentous week – the 16th Annual Food Allergy Awareness Week!

We’ve come a long way in raising awareness of this potentially deadly disease that affects 15 million Americans, including 1 in 13 children. But there is still so much work to be done to increase understanding of food allergy as a serious public health issue.

As the vice president of education at FARE, I have the opportunity to be a part of a growing movement to ensure the safety and inclusion of all those affected by food allergies and anaphylaxis.

I’d like to share with you just a few of the things we’re working on this year:

  • We’ve just wrapped up our first Food Allergy Conference in Oak Brook, Ill., and will be hosting our second spring conference in Arlington, Va., on May 18. If you’re on the west coast, I hope to see you in Anaheim, Calif. on June 1. Every conference is packed with sessions intended to help you live well with food allergies. If you haven’t yet attended a conference and you’re nearby, I encourage you to register today!
  • This week, we launched a national public awareness campaign aimed at raising awareness about the potentially life-threatening nature of food allergies and curbing food allergy bullying – a serious issue that is becoming more common and has potentially dangerous consequences. I encourage all of you to watch and share the “It’s Not a Joke” PSA (available in 30- and 90-second versions). We have already gotten tremendous feedback on this campaign. It’s a moving piece, intended to spark discussion and help others understand the impact of their actions.
  • We will be launching a series of educational webinars later in the year, with guest experts on wide-ranging topics. FARE members will have the opportunity to receive priority placement for live webinars, which will later be archived on our website.

These are just a handful of the exciting activities on the horizon this year at FARE. Stay tuned for more exciting news throughout the year. We also hope you’ll also join us at a FARE Walk for Food Allergy near you!

Mike Spigler

Vice President of Education, FARE

Celebrating Food Allergy Awareness Week with Peanut Allergy Testing

Not every patient trusts the results of blood and skin allergy testing.  But from the time my child was one year old, we’ve known he had egg and peanut allergies…we’d seen the reactions.

Before he was diagnosed and my husband and I knew what food allergies were, I once saw my son’s breathing become labored and difficult with vomiting…what I now know to be signs of anaphylactic shock.  Also before he was diagnosed, I once saw his eye swell shut and out to the size of small lemon.

Make no mistake about it.  We’ve seen the physical evidence of egg and peanut allergies and how they affect my son.

Blessedly, he has outgrown his egg allergy now seven years later.  However, his IgE numbers climb every year right along with the class level of his peanut allergies.  Currently his peanut allergies are in the highest class according to both skin and blood testing.  That’s a truly scary thing…something I don’t have to tell most of you.  I’m know preaching to the choir on this one.

Almost a year ago, my allergist mentioned an up and coming allergy blood test that could measure a patient’s physical reaction to the ingestion of a peanut.  At the time, the test cost around $500 which put it exorbitantly out of reach from food allergy families on a budget…like ours.  It sounded like a dream to have that peace of mind, but it wasn’t within our reach.

As the test gains popularity with more allergists, the price of the procedure has decreased to approximately $300…still expensive.  I suppose you can’t really put a price on peace of mind, but it tends to look that way when you have to choose between peace of mind and the day to day cost of supporting your family.

Last week, my allergist called to let me know the test (called U Know Peanut…www.uKnowPeanut.com) would be offered for about half the normal price for a limited time only.  In some cases patients’ insurance companies would pay for half of that cost.

I was finally beginning to see peace of mind within my reach; the ability to know how my son would react if he were to do the unthinkable and ingest a peanut.

To kick off Food Allergy Awareness Week, my son had the blood test done today.  We are both a little breathless with anticipation of the test results but will have to wait a week or so to hear them.  I will post more information about the test and our experience with it as it becomes available.

To learn more, visit http://www.uKnowPeanut.com and speak with your allergist about this test to decide if it’s right for you.