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Slide 1 - Food Allergy:A Teaching Module For The Non-Allergist (Draft Presentation) Multi-Faceted Food Allergy Education Program Funding provided by the United States Department of Agriculture
Slide 2 - Learning Objectives Understand the clinical manifestations of food allergic disorders Appreciate the utility of tests used to diagnose food allergy Recognize and understand the management of food-induced anaphylaxis Appreciate and respond to the educational needs of patients diagnosed with food allergy in regard to avoidance and treatment
Slide 3 - Perceived versus True Food Allergy About 20% in the general population perceive themselves to have a “food allergy” Food allergy is an adverse immune response to food protein IgE antibody mediated: sudden allergic reactions Cell-mediated reactions: chronic symptoms Many reasons for adverse reactions to foods Intolerance (e.g., lactose intolerance) Toxic (e.g., food poisoning) Pharmacologic (e.g., caffeine) Estimated prevalence of food allergy (increasing) 6-8% of young children 2-4% of adults
Slide 4 - Life-Threatening Food Allergies Are Associated with Production of IgE Antibodies IgE antibodies circulate in the bloodstream and bind to receptors on basophils and tissue mast cells Binding of a food protein to the antibodies triggers release of mediators (e.g., histamine) causing symptoms Basis for allergy tests (serum tests for food-specific IgE and allergy prick/puncture skin tests) Mast cell IgE antibody Histamine Food Protein Release of Histamine Armed Mast Cell Activated Mast Cell
Slide 5 - Common Causal Foods Common for severe reactions Peanut Tree Nuts (e.g., walnut, cashew) Shellfish (e.g., shrimp) Fish (e.g., cod) But, potentially others such as seeds, etc. Common foods causing mild reactions (usually) Fruits Vegetables Common allergens for children, usually outgrown* Milk Egg Wheat Soy *20% of young children “outgrow” a peanut allergy By school-age
Slide 6 - IgE-Mediated Cell-mediated (Non-IgE-Mediated) Skin Urticaria Atopic Dermatitis Angioedema Dermatitis herpetiformis (papulovesicular rash) Respiratory Asthma Rhinitis Gastrointestinal GI “Anaphylaxis” Eosinophilic Celiac disease Oral Allergy gastrointestinal Infant syndrome disorders gastrointestinal Systemic disorders Anaphylaxis Food-associated, exercise-induced anaphylaxis Spectrum of Food Allergy
Slide 7 - Diagnosis May Be a Challenging Chronic symptoms Gastrointestinal, skin or respiratory Only sometimes related to food allergy No history of a “trigger” food Multiple possible triggers Many foods in the diet Definitive outcomes needed To know what to eat/avoid Masqueraders Many illnesses can appear to be food allergy “Imperfect” tests Detection of IgE to a food (e.g., by serum or skin tests) reveals “sensitization” which is not always a proof of clinical reaction Approximate sensitivity is 50-80%, specificity 90-95% (false positives and false negatives) Eosinophilic esophagitis Atopic dermatitis Neurologically-mediated vasodilatation) caused by tart foods (auriculotemporal syndrome) Positive skin test
Slide 8 - Food Allergy Evaluation* History Details of diet, possible triggers, alternative diagnoses Physical To exclude other causes Testing Tests for IgE to suspected trigger(s) Skin prick tests by an allergist Serum tests widely available (not affected by anti-histamines) May require diet elimination/physician supervised oral food challenges *Additional procedures may be needed
Slide 9 - Tests for Food-Specific IgE Amount of food-specific IgE reflected by serum level or skin test size Increasing “level” roughly reflects increasing risk of a reaction “Level” does not correlate well with “severity” Modest sensitivity and specificity makes tests poor for “screening” clinical history is very important reaction could occur despite “negative” test
Slide 10 - Food Anaphylaxis Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death Food is the most common cause of community anaphylaxis Anaphylaxis may be biphasic Quiescent period after initial symptoms and recurrence of symptoms in the subsequent hours
Slide 11 - Food Anaphylaxis Risk factors for fatal, food-induced anaphylaxis Major risk factor: delayed use of epinephrine High risk groups: teenagers/young adults High risk co-morbidity: asthma Confusing physical symptom: urticaria may be absent
Slide 12 - Criteria for Anaphylaxis(anaphylaxis is likely) 1. Acute onset of an illness (minutes to several hours) with involvement of the skin and/or mucosal tissue (e.g., generalized hives, pruritus or flushing, swollen lips/tongue/uvula) AND AT LEAST ONE OF THE FOLLOWING a. Respiratory compromise (e.g., dyspnea, wheeze/bronchospasm, stridor, reduced peak expiratory flow (PEF), hypoxemia) b. Reduced blood pressure (BP) or associated symptoms of end-organ dysfunction (e.g.,hypotonia [collapse], syncope, incontinence) NIH Panel report 2006
Slide 13 - Criteria for Anaphylaxis(anaphylaxis is likely) OR 2. Two or more of the following that occur rapidly after exposure to a likely allergen for that patient (minutes to several hours): a. Involvement of the skin/mucosal tissue (e.g., generalized hives, itch/flush, swollen lips/tongue/uvula) b. Respiratory compromise (e.g., dyspnea, wheeze/bronchospasm, stridor, reduced PEF, hypoxemia) c. Reduced BP or associated symptoms (e.g., hypotonia [collapse], syncope, incontinence) d. Persistent GI symptoms (e.g., crampy abdominal pain, vomiting)
Slide 14 - Criteria for Anaphylaxis(anaphylaxis is likely) OR 3. Reduced blood pressure following exposure to known allergen for that patient (minutes to several hours): a. Infants and Children: low systolic BP (age-specific) or >30% drop in systolic BP* b. Adults: systolic BP <90 mmHg or >30% drop from that person’s baseline * Low systolic BP for children is defined as <70 mmHg from 1 month to 1 year; less than (70 mmHg + [2 x age]) from 1-10 years; and <90 mmHg from age 11-17 years.
Slide 15 - Treatment of Anaphylaxis:Epinephrine Dose: 0.01 mg/kg (max 0.5 mg) 0.01 cc/kg of 1:1,000 concentration Route: intramuscular Higher and quicker peak serum levels compared to subcutaneous Consider intravenous for severe hypotension/arrest Monitor, titrate, higher risk of dysrhythmias Location: anterior, lateral thigh (vastus lateralis) Higher and quicker peak serum levels compared to deltoid Frequency: ~5-15 minutes (adjusted clinically)
Slide 16 - Treatment of Anaphylaxis:Typical Treatments Antihistamine (H1 and H2 Blockers) Slower in onset than epinephrine (e.g. 30 minutes) Second-line therapy Little effect on blood pressure Helpful for urticaria, angioedema, pruritus Addition of H2 blockade (may improve treatment of cutaneous manifestations) Adrenergic agents Inhaled beta-2 agonists may be useful for bronchospasm refractory to epinephrine Corticosteroids May prevent protracted/biphasic course but not proven
Slide 17 - Treatment of Anaphylaxis:Advanced Treatment Options Oxygen Fluid resuscitation Vasopressors Glucagon Presumptive for epinephrine recalcitrant/beta-blockade Physical position during anaphylactic shock (unless precluded by vomiting or respiratory distress) Recumbent with legs raised Case reports of death when raised to upright position (“empty ventricle”)
Slide 18 - Observation Following Anaphylaxis: ≥ 4 hours Symptoms may recur ( studies vary, 1-20% of episodes) Biphasic reaction may be more severe Onset varies (studies vary, 1-72 hours) Recommended observation 4-6 hours for most patients Longer for more severe symptoms More caution for patients with asthma
Slide 19 - Aftercare/Food Allergy Care Avoidance/dietary elimination At home/Manufactured products Restaurants/vacation/travel School Unexpected exposures Treatment of a reaction Emergency plans Self-administered epinephrine Medical identification jewelry
Slide 20 - Dietary Elimination Hidden ingredients (peanut in sauces or egg rolls) Must educate patients to ask questions in restaurants Labeling issues (changes, errors) Must educate patient to read label each time Cross contamination (shared equipment) Seeking assistance Registered dietitian: ( Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network: (; 800-929-4040) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition: (
Slide 21 - Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (Effective Jan 2006) What the law addresses: Must disclose “major food allergens” in plain English words Major food allergens: milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanut, tree nuts, fish, Crustacean shellfish Must name specific tree nut, fish or shellfish (e.g. cashew, tuna, shrimp) May list scientific name (e.g. casein) but if English word equivalent also used (e.g. milk)
Slide 22 - Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (Effective Jan 2006) What the law does not address: Allergens not considered “major” (i.e. sesame or garlic) may not be identified May be hidden using terms such as “spices” or “natural flavor” Does not apply to non-crustacean shellfish (i.e. clam, squid) “May contain” provisional labeling is voluntary
Slide 23 - Restaurants Indicate ALLERGY to staff Could otherwise mistake for food “preference” Careful line of communication for food preparation Avoid buffet, sauces, high risk restaurants (e.g., Asian restaurant with peanut allergy/ seafood restaurant with seafood allergy) Avoid cross-contact with allergens Consider “Chef Cards” From:
Slide 24 - Strategies for Food Allergy in School: Avoidance Increased supervision during meals, snacks No sharing (food, containers, utensils) Clean tables, toys, hands (younger children) Substitutions: meals, cooking, crafts, science Ingredient labels for foods brought in Education of staff Don’t miss the bus: no food parties, ensure communication/supervision
Slide 25 - Strategies for Anaphylaxis in School: Treatment Physician-directed protocols Review of protocols, assignment of roles Medications readily available (not locked) Education and review: signs of reaction technique of medication administration basic first aid notification of emergency medical system (911)
Slide 26 - Resources The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network 800-929-4040
Slide 27 - Recommendations for School Available at
Slide 28 - Unusual/Casual Exposures Kissing (passionate) Cosmetics Medications/vaccines (read labels/inserts) Airborne (usually when cooking resulting in fumes from food, such as eggs, seafood, milk)
Slide 29 - Prescription of Self-Injectable Epinephrine Indication Definite: For previous anaphylaxis Other: Perceived high risk Examples: peanut/nut/seafood allergy and asthma, reaction to trace amounts, remote locations Dose of self-injectable epinephrine Available as 0.15 mg (package insert 33-66 lbs) Available as 0.30 mg (package insert > 66 lbs) Physician discretion (e.g., switch to 0.3 mg at 55 lbs to avoid under-dosing) Prescription of 2 doses
Slide 30 - Treatment Plan: Use of Self-Injectable Epinephrine Training on self-injector use Errors in activating are common, must review Trainers available (; DVDs, tapes and websites with instructions from manufacturers Training on when to inject For anaphylaxis as defined earlier Consider for fewer symptoms depending upon history/circumstances Examples: previous severe anaphylaxis and current certain ingestion despite no symptoms, mild symptoms but remote to medical care Seek advanced care Activate emergency services (e.g., 911)
Slide 31 - Emergency Action Plan/Identification Jewelry From
Slide 32 - Epinephrine Device Demonstration Epipen Twinject Click on the device above for which you would like to view a video demonstration
Slide 33 - Allergy Referral Persons on limited diet for perceived adverse reactions Persons with diagnosed food allergy Persons with allergic symptoms in association with food exposures The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology:
Slide 34 - EXAMPLES
Slide 35 - Sarah Age 37 Ate a cashew cookie and developed anaphylaxis treated in the emergency department History indicates she typically tolerates cashews, walnuts, almond, peanut, pecan, pistachio Which is the most appropriate course of action? A) Advise to avoid all tree nuts B) Advise to avoid cashew C) Perform allergy tests to cashew D) Determine the ingredients of the cookie
Slide 36 - Diagnosis Requires CarefulHistory The cookie package indicated that Brazil nuts were an ingredient Sarah had been eating cashews but never frequently ate Brazil nuts Allergy tests were positive to Brazil nut and negative to cashew Instructions could include avoidance of all nut products (may have Brazil) or to continue ingestion of tolerated nuts when certain that Brazil nut is not included
Slide 37 - Ronald 35 year old with peanut allergy Ate a cookie and has a few hives around the mouth, no other symptoms Which of the following actions is most appropriate? A) Inject epinephrine now B) Inject epinephrine if symptoms progress
Slide 38 - The Answer Could Depend Upon The Clinical History HISTORY #1 Has had 6 lifetime accidental peanut ingestions All reactions resulted in hives No history of asthma Could monitor and inject if progresses/inject if uncertain HISTORY #2 6 lifetime peanut ingestions 5 with breathing difficulty 2 required respirator support/ionotropes 5 required epinephrine One resulted in hives and vomiting Should inject epinephrine
Slide 39 - Jim 3 year old Soy allergic Eating hot dog at school picnic (“all beef”) Teacher sees he is thrashing around Not breathing, turning blue Teacher has his Self-injectable with her What should she do?
Slide 40 - Masquerader of Anaphylaxis Choking Panic attack Myocardial infarction Must assess history Jim was likely choking-Heimlich maneuver May err on side of administering epinephrine if not certain
Slide 41 - Stephanie 16 years old, has asthma Sesame allergy (known) Ate a bagel with no visible sesame Has no hives, develops repetitive coughing, hoarse throat, trouble swallowing What treatment is most appropriate? A) Antihistamine B) Injected epinephrine C) Asthma inhaler D) Heimlich maneuver
Slide 42 - Anaphylaxis May Occur Without Hives Inject Epinephrine
Slide 43 - Billy 3 years old, asthma Ate friend’s snack Within minutes: Hives, wheezing IN ER: given epinephrine, antihistamine In ER 45 minutes after ingestion, no more symptoms Discharged home by ER What suggestions might you have before he leaves the ER?
Slide 44 - Follow-Up Care For Food Anaphylaxis Query for possible trigger/suggest avoidance Refer for/perform diagnostic testing Prescribe/teach self-injectable epinephrine/emergency plan Monitor additional time (4-6 hours) to ensure no biphasic/protracted reaction
Slide 45 - Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Summary Diagnosis requires careful history, testing consider allergy referral Instruct patients on the signs of an allergic reaction/anaphylaxis Instruct patient on nuances of allergen avoidance diet Packaged goods, restaurants, school, etc. Treatment of life-threatening allergy requires instruction about recognition and management of anaphylaxis Epinephrine is the drug of choice for treatment of anaphylaxis and should be injected promptly Emergency plans in writing Medical identification jewelry Activation of emergency services (911)
Slide 46 - Web Resources Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network Epipen product website Twinject product website Medicalert products and services
Slide 47 - Web Resources Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition US Food and Drug Administration Medwatch American Dietetic Association American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology