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What's the emotional impact of food allergies?

When a child has food allergies, there are emotional repercussions both for him and his parents. Allergies, which are the reaction of the immune system to try to "protect" the body from a food it thinks is harmful, can case serious and sometimes even life-threatening symptoms. These range from rashes and abdominal pain to trouble breathing and anaphylactic shock. Food allergies can affect the social activities of an allergic child's family. They may not be able to eat out restaurants, stay at hotels, go to birthday parties or eat in friends' homes. The more foods a child is allergic to, the more difficult it is.

Food allergies also affect the stress level within the home. Parents are constantly anxious about keeping their kids safe -- their kids' health and often even their life are in the parents' hands. They have to advocate for their children at school and watch them like hawks to make sure they don't eat or touch anything that might set off an allergic reaction. This can be an exhausting, nearly full-time job.

Adults with food allergies are often anxious about what (or whether) to tell their co-workers about their allergies. They're afraid of how it will look if they don't eat at business lunches and of being told they're making unreasonable demands at the office. They don't want to be seen as difficult to please, as a liability or as less "strong" than their colleagues. A stigma may come along with having a "condition," and allergy sufferers often feel different and alone. As employees, they must walk a fine line between avoiding difficult situations and protecting themselves from harm.

Food allergies have a significant impact on your daily life in many ways. It's important not only to find out how to get by without coming into contact with your food allergens but to get help, from a professional if necessary, to deal with the emotional issues that come along with your allergies.