This year, the World Allergy Organization is hosting World Allergy Week from June 28th to July 4th in order to emphasize the importance of continued allergy care despite the COVID-19 pandemic. With so much fear and anxiety surrounding the coronavirus it is normal that other hardships – such as living with food allergies – be moved to the backburner. However, the reality remains that for people with food allergies, the everyday struggles surrounding their allergies haven’t gone away. Now more than ever it is important that we remember that allergy care does not stop with COVID-19.
For people undergoing oral immunotherapy, consistency is key. These patients need to be constantly receiving doses of their allergen in order to build up a tolerance. Additionally, the symptoms to their allergen needs to be tracked and doctors need to be able to switch up their doses. Given this, avoiding doctors completely during the COVID-19 pandemic is simply not an option. Many allergists have begun to embrace the new technologies available to them and have started taking appointments over the phone. Telemedicine may not be the same as an in person exam, but it can help you stay on top of your allergy care despite the coronavirus, and even save you some time.
With the coronavirus pandemic keeping people from being able to go into work, many businesses have been forced to change their stock. Additionally, factories have had to change up recipes in order keep up with demand despite less availability to some ingredients. Given this, people with food allergies have had to be extra careful with the food they eat. Finding the allergy free bread they like, may not be as easy as usual and their favorite granola bar may have gone and changed the recipe on them. It is important that we ensure that the people in the food allergy community continue to have access to the foods they need.
Despite food allergies not being the main focus, the hardships surrounding food allergy families haven’t gone away. If anything, they have only intensified. Given this, it is vital that we not forget to continue to raise awareness for those left struggling more than ever. As usual, education is key. Keep spreading the word about the realities surrounding food allergies and make sure people recognize how they can make a difference. Remind people to avoid buying out the allergy safe food if they don’t have to, and try to keep the lines of communication open during this time. Maybe even use social media as a way to keep the conversation going.
Support Small Businesses
So many businesses have been forced to close as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With so many people out of jobs and the economy taking a dramatic hit, supporting small businesses is as important as ever. If possible, try and make that extra effort with your food allergy community. Buy that box of cookies from your allergy safe bakery or eat out at the allergy free restaurant in your community. These establishments help the food allergy community feel safe when they go out and now more than ever it is time that we show our support.
No matter who you are, the novel coronavirus has affected you in some way. Whether it be financially, emotionally, physically, mentally or all of the above, COVID-19 had undoubtedly taken its toll. This joint experience could be a great tool to use in banding the food allergy community together. The experience of navigating food allergies through the pandemic is a great way to strengthen the community and find new ways to raise awareness. Use social media as a way to share your hardships and connect with others who may have gone through the same things.
It can be easy to forget about the people who are struggling during a difficult time, but now more than ever these people require our help. There isn’t one right way to give back to the food allergy community; just find the way that feels right to you. Try donating allergy safe food to food banks or donating to research that can help find new ways to deal with food allergies. Additionally, you could sign a petition asking for sesame to be added to the list of top allergies or even just share a Facebook post to raise awareness. It’s not a question of how you help, but rather if you do. Even the smallest act can make a difference.
Food allergy families have found themselves facing new hardships since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. However, they have banded together as a community in order to find new, creative solutions to any problems they may be facing. With so much focus being put on COVID-19 these days, it is more important than ever that the food allergy community continue supporting and caring and finding new innovative solutions to their problems.