Family Allergy Asthma & Sinus Care is located in Charlotte, NC, (Pineville), Enjoy our Educational Blog:

10/23/2015: Food Allergies and Halloween: Guide to Safe Trick-or-Treating!

It is estimated that 1 in 13 children have food allergies.  Food allergies can be life threatening and must be taken seriously!   While Trick-or-Treating should be an exciting time, the possibility of an accidental food allergy exposure can be high, so appropriate steps should be taken for the food allergic child.  Spotting allergy triggers in candies and treats isn’t always easy.

Here are some helpful Halloween Food Allergy Tips:

  • Parents, sort through your child’s candy before the wrappers start coming off.  Read the ingredient list carefully and discard (or keep for yourself later) those that your little goblin should avoid.
  • Beware of individually wrapped candies that are not labelled with ingredients and food allergy warnings.
  • Carry your self-injectable epinephrine (EpiPen® or Auvi-Q™) for use early in emergencies.
  • Beware of “homemade” treats where the ingredients are not known.   Even if the ingredients are known, the possibility of cross contamination could have occurred during preparation.
  • Wear your medical identification bracelet and keep your food allergy/anaphylaxis plan handy
  • If in doubt, throw it out!

Major Halloween Food Allergens:

Chocolate candies:  the main ingredients in chocolate are milk, cocoa and peanuts or nuts.

  • Milk is the most common food allergy in young children.  The allergen is the milk proteins such as casein and whey proteins.  Lactose intolerance due difficulty digesting the milk sugar (lactose) is a common cause of abdominal pain, bloating, gassiness and diarrhea, but will not trigger an anaphylactic allergic reaction.
  • Peanuts and nuts are a common trigger of severe (anaphylactic) allergic reactions.  While walnut is the most common nuts to trigger allergies, any other nut can also cause a reaction including cashew, pistachio, pecan, hazelnut and almond.  Coconut allergy tends to be less common.
  • Cocoa is rarely an allergic trigger!  Most reactions from cocoa occur during processing of cocoa beans.

Other foods ingredients in candy that can trigger an allergic reaction:

  • Egg, wheat and soy are the other very common food allergens.
  • Food dyes/colorings can trigger symptoms in a small percentage of persons.
  • Food preservatives are an unusual trigger but can occur.

There is additional information on food allergies at

At Family Allergy Asthma & Sinus Care, we wish you a safe and “spooktacular” Halloween!  If your child experiences an allergic reaction, call us!  We are here to take care of you!

10/11/2015: Pumpkin Allergy
Pumpkin lattes, pies, shakes, muffins, bars, bread, cheesecake, cookies, pancakes, flam, pudding, squares, soups, and yes even, pumpkin chili and lasagna.  Is there anything you can’t make with pumpkin?

Is pumpkin dangerous to some individuals?

Allergic reactions to pumpkin “flesh” are rare with only 3 cases described in the medical literature.  One was a patient who had anaphylaxis after eating pumpkin soup.  The second patient was an 18 year-old who developed itching, shortness of breath and throat tightness after eating pumpkin cake at school he made for home economics class.  He required epinephrine and observation in the hospital.  His blood allergy test to pumpkin was positive.  The third patient was an 8 year-old boy who developed sneezing, eyelid itching and puffiness and chest tightness while carving a pumpkin.  He had not ingested pumpkin, but rubbed his eyes after putting his hand in the pumpkin. His skin test was positive to pumpkin.  To read this article, go to:

Pumpkin seed allergy is also rare with only 4 case reports, two of which I describe here.  An 11 year-old child had anaphylaxis 15 minutes after consuming a small number of pumpkin seeds.  Although his skin test was negative, he developed hives, swelling and asthma after eating 10 grams of pumpkin seeds, confirming the diagnosis. This article from Switzerland also includes 2 children with sunflower seed allergy. Go to:   A 33 year-old-man in Spain developed recurrent episodes of facial swelling/redness and difficulty breathing after eating toasted pumpkin seeds.  His allergy skin test to pumpkin was positive.  He was offered a specific challenge test to eat pumpkin seeds, yet he declined. (Smart patient!)  For the complete article, go to:

Pumpkins (Cucurbita maxima) are in the Cucurbitaceae family sometimes called the gourd family.  This also includes squash, zucchini and some gourds.  Pumpkin seeds are usually eaten after they are toasted as appetizers, used on salads, or in breads.  Pumpkin seeds contain large amounts of protein and the most common ones to trigger allergies are profilins and lipid transfer proteins (LTP).   Most of the patients who had pumpkin allergy also had other allergies including allergic rhinitis to pollen, asthma or other food allergies including banana, strawberry, peach or nectarine.

At Family Allergy Asthma & Sinus Care, we specialize in food allergy diagnosis and treatment.  Enjoy that pumpkin treat, but if it doesn’t agree with you, call us.  Many food reactions are not reported to their doctor or their doctor tells them it’s “not possible.”  Perhaps pumpkin allergy is underdiagnosed.  If you have experienced an allergic-type reaction, to pumpkin or another food, let us know.  We can help.

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These educational information does not take the place of your physician's advice.

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