Managing your food allergy can be frustrating when you eat at a restaurant or eat food someone else has prepared. The best way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid your triggers. That means you need to constantly read food labels and ask about ingredients in food. It's important to do so since you can't predict if your symptoms will be mild or severe after an exposure. Since it isn't possible to eliminate allergens with complete certainty at all times, you need to have a backup treatment plan in place. Here are some common methods of treating food allergies.

Epinephrine Injection

If you've had allergy testing and your doctor has determined you are allergic to certain foods such as peanuts, your doctor will probably give you a prescription for an auto-injecting epinephrine pen. You carry this pen with you at all times so you can use it if you accidentally eat the food that causes an allergic reaction. This ensures you get quick treatment rather than waiting on an ambulance to arrive. You simply self-administer the medication or have someone nearby do it. The pen usually has two doses so you can follow up the first injection with a second one if you don't get relief right away.

Even if you use the pen, you should still call an ambulance or go to an emergency room so you can be monitored for further symptoms. You may need additional drugs to get your allergy attack under control. You may need additional epinephrine, steroids, or antihistamines. You should look at the injector pen as emergency medication that allows you to make it to a doctor for further care rather than as a cure for your attack.

Antihistamine Medication

It's more common to have less severe reactions to foods, especially common foods such as milk. You may break out in a rash, get hives, or start to wheeze. Antihistamines may keep these symptoms under control. Since you'll be working to avoid your food allergens, you probably won't have to take antihistamines all the time, however, every person is unique, so you'll want to work with your doctor for the best way to manage your symptoms. Your doctor may give you medications to use when you have a flare up. You may take the drugs by mouth or rub them on your skin if you have a skin eruption, such as happens with an eczema outbreak caused by a food allergy.

Asthma Treatments

Asthma symptoms of shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing can be triggered by food allergies. Your doctor may prescribe medication that relaxes your airway muscles to reduce wheezing, or other medication that reduces swelling or widens your airways. Some asthma medications need to be taken daily in order to prevent an attack while others are taken as needed when wheezing begins. You may be given medication you inhale into your lungs for the quickest relief.

Currently, the best treatment for a food allergy is to avoid that food entirely. You may also need to avoid foods from the same family to be on the safe side. Allergy shots are usually not effective for food allergies like they are for allergies to pollen. However, studies are underway for treating allergies through managed exposure to certain foods. This type of treatment may eventually desensitize allergy suffers so the food allergy can be cured. Until that happens, avoidance of allergens while being prepared to treat a severe reaction with medications is the best way to manage your food allergy.