Avoiding Food Allergies: Tricks for Treats

The most frightening part of Halloween is not what creeps in the dark, but what lurks in your child’s trick-or-treat bag.  Some of the most common food allergens are present in a good portion of traditional Halloween candy. These hidden dangers can be any of the following:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Wheat
  • Gelatin
  • Food dyes/colors

Some people have what is known as a food intolerance, which means that their exposure to these allergens may cause a temporary discomfort, which while not at all fun, is not serious. On the other hand, people who suffer from food allergies develop severe symptoms that require medical attention. These dangerous reactions can begin within two minutes to two hours, and present with any or all of the following:

  • Tingling or itching in the mouth
  • Hives, itching or eczema
  • Runny, stuffy nose, watery eyes, sneezing
  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat or other parts of the body
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting

In many instances, these symptoms will lead to Anaphylaxis. When the body goes into Anaphylaxis, it is essentially going into shock. At this point, the person will experience:

  • Sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Narrowing of airways, making it difficult to breathe
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Skin rash
  • Nausea and vomiting

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition and requires medical attention immediately. The moment you even suspect your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, dial 911.

As a parent, merely thinking about the threat of your child suffering from a food allergy may just scare you to death. But before you call off Halloween traditions for good, read our following suggestions on how to have an allergy-free Halloween.

Read labels carefully. Sometimes you’ll find allergens you’d never expect in certain foods so look closely at the ingredients of everything. Did you know that the allergy warnings on different candies from the same company may be different depending on the size of the treat? For example, a full-size chocolate bar may have a different warning than a fun-sized one. Also, the FDA doesn’t require manufacturers to include advisory labels such as “May contain wheat.” While most candy makers will, it is best to err on the side of caution. For more information on this topic, click here.

Don’t leave candy your child can’t have laying around. Do you know what makes candy taste even better to any child? Being told she or he can’t have it. If you have candy that contains allergens in the house, keep it out of sight and mind.

Hand out food allergy-friendly candy. Even if your child does not have food allergies, you’re never sure which little zombie or super hero may. Play it safe for everyone.

Keep it clean. Sometimes just touching an allergen will trigger a reaction. Instead of letting your child reach into the candy bowl, ask the adult to drop it in the bag. Carry antiseptic wipes in case your child does handle a troublesome piece of candy, or better yet, work a pair of gloves into her or his costume.

Create new Halloween traditions. Instead of trick-or-treating (which in these days seems to be less common anyway), throw a Halloween party stocked with spooky activities and delicious allergy-free treats.

Carry your child’s self-injectable epinephrine pen. It’s always best to be cautious and ready.

By simply taking these precautions, you can help ensure that the only frights you have this season are those of the fun kind.

The physicians and staff of  CT Sinus Center wish you a spooktacular (and safe) Halloween!
(For more information on all things  allergies, visit the CT Sinus Center website.)

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