If there’s one constant when it comes to health and medicine, it’s that what we consider best practice today may not look the same as it did half a century ago, ten years ago, a year ago, or even a week ago.
This is a good thing. The way we manage our health and treat disease evolves because the experts do their thing. They research. They study. They experiment. They develop new treatments and medications. They use technology and previous advances to better understand the way our bodies work (and how to help them work as they should).
One recent example of this evolution of best practices was published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology mid-December 2023. The evidence-based report, the 2023 Anaphylaxis Practice Parameters, may change the way your allergist advises you to manage your/your loved one’s allergies and reactions to allergens.
What does this mean for you?
What the report doesn’t do is give you a hard and fast set of yes and no, do’s and don’ts. If you opt to follow the link to the full report, understand this: these are parameters that can be used as a starting point for a discussion with your allergist.
Your allergist will work with you to consider the specifics of your (or your loved one’s) medical history and lifestyle in the context of these new parameters to identify the right allergy management plan going forward. That plan may look a lot like it always has. It may look a little different. Either way, it’s still an individualized plan developed by a physician that is familiar with your allergies and your needs.
Do I need to understand this new report?
Your allergist needs to understand this new report. However, food allergies are a chronic medical condition – for many patients, it’s a lifelong condition – and keeping yourself informed of the latest research and recommendations is helpful. It allows you to have a more thorough conversation with the physician you trust to help you manage your or your loved ones food allergies. It helps you ask the right questions for your specific needs and it can also help you be more open to adapting to a new management plan if changes are needed.
So where do I get started?
As with anything related to healthcare information, begin with reliable expert sources. Research on food allergies (and any other medical topic) is ongoing. Identifying trustworthy, expert sources to follow can help you identify what food allergy news is legitimate. Those resources can help you identify hype around research and reports vs reality. They can better equip you with accurate context to guide your conversation with your own allergist.
How do I know it’s a reliable source?
Reports like the one linked above are written to help inform medical practitioners and to provide them with updated research to better guide their patients. Patient-facing articles about such reports should refer you back to your own allergist for personalized care. Your allergy management plan is specific to your (or your loved one’s) specific health history and needs. You also want to look for evidence-based research, published in reputable medical journals.
Where should I start?
If you’re not familiar with some of those reputable sources, here are a few place to get started:
- Dr. David Stukus (aka Allergy Kids Doc on Instagram.) Dr. Stukus is the Director of the Food Allergy Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and uses his social media platforms to share reliable information related to allergies, asthma and, immunology. He begins to break down the 2023 Anaphylaxis Practice Parameters here: Overview, as well as across several reels.
- Allergic Living Magazine. This publication offers everything from interviews with board-certified experts to recipes and insights from food allergy patients and parents. Articles that cover research or general allergy related questions incorporate quotes and input from respected physicians.
- FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education). FARE’s mission is “to improve the quality of life and health of those with food allergies through transformative research, education, and advocacy.” The organization has been integral in lobbying for clear and accurate food labeling laws, stock epinephrine laws, and others. They fund research, as well educate patients, caregivers, and communities.
- FAACT (Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team). Similarly, FAACT’s mission is to “educate, advocate, and raise awareness for all individuals and families affected by food allergies and life-threatening anaphylaxis.” They have also been strong advocates in passing laws that better serve and protect food allergic patients, as well as provide a platform to help educate patients, caregivers and communities.
- ACAAI (American College of Allergy, Asthma, Immunology) A professional medical organization for allergists, immunologists, and related healthcare providers, ACAAI also provides a patient resource center. (Specifics about this latest report on anaphylaxis can be found here: New Guidelines)
- AAAAI (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology). Likewise, AAAAI is also a professional organization for health care providers specializing in allergies, asthma, and immunology. They too provide tools for the public as well as other patient education resources.
- AAFA (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America). AAFA is another patient education and advocacy organization. In addition to their primary site, they also offer Kids with Food Allergies as a resource to families raising food allergic children.