Living with Life-Threatening Food Allergies

Living with life-threatening food allergies is something Sarah Ackerman has been dealing with her entire life. Although she has learned to live with food allergies, Sarah’s journey continues—with MedicAlert by her side.

When I was three years old, I got my first real piece of jewelry,” says Sarah. “It was silver and gold and customized for me. There was nobody else in the world who could wear this bracelet, and I felt special. 

My MedicAlert bracelet has remained on my wrist for the past twenty-one years. It has seen me through every dance performance, breakup, sleepover, and most importantly, allergic reaction. While the styles, allergies, and chain length have changed over the years, one thing remains clear—this bracelet is my lifeline.” 

Sarah MedicAlert Member

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Growing up with my MedicAlert bracelet and life-threatening food allergies

“To make it easier, I’ll start at the beginning,” says Sarah. “When entering preschool, my pediatrician explained to my parents the importance of having a MedicAlert bracelet. The MedicAlert ID provided me with my first major life lesson and feeling of identity. I was taught to flip the bracelet over upon meeting an adult. Point to it for them to read. And say ‘no nuts for me.’ Simple, but it worked. And quite honestly, you can’t expect much more from a three-year-old. I was perfectly trained.”

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI), tree nut allergies are most often linked to anaphylaxis. Not to be confused with peanuts (a legume), the most common tree nuts associated with food allergies in children and teens include walnuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews, hazelnuts, and Brazil nuts. 

Besides this, tree nuts can be found in some very unexpected places including breakfast cereals, condiments, candy, frozen desserts, and cookies. These are all the things kids and teens love.

Because tree nuts are found in so many common foods, avoiding them can be difficult. However, knowing that a child or teen is allergic to nuts helps ensure that they will never come in contact with them. A MedicAlert ID that says “anaphylaxis food allergies” ensures that the people who matter the most are aware that your child is living with life-threatening food allergies.

“While I was growing up and still too young to fully communicate my allergies,” Sarah says, “this bracelet provided my parents with peace of mind.”

“This bracelet, which looked way too nice for any child to otherwise be wearing, was apparent upon seeing me. At school, dance class, rehearsals, or playdates, the bracelet remained a constant. A constant voice that would be available if something were to go wrong.”

My bracelet and protection plan allows my health information, physicians, and loved ones to be linked to my account. If something were to happen, I find great comfort in knowing that all the right people could be reached.

Embracing my MedicAlert medical ID

“Once I reached my teenage years, I wanted to find the aspects of my food allergies I felt like I could control,” explains Sarah. “My MedicAlert bracelet was the only thing I could think of.”

“As a result, I sometimes took it off, just to see if anyone would notice and if something bad would happen. When I did that, I always felt nervous knowing that, if something went wrong, I wasn’t helping myself.”

If your child is involved in an accident or has another medical emergency, a MedicAlert ID can help save their life. First responders around the world recognize our emblem. These heroes have been trained by MedicAlert to look for medical ID bracelets, necklaces, shoe tags, and wallet cards. MedicAlert provides these and many other medical IDs to suit all ages, lifestyles, and conditions.

“My parents tried to turn it into something special, showing me all the styles and allowing me to pick out my very own [medical ID],” says Sarah. “As jealous as my sister was of me picking out the styles, I was more jealous that she didn’t have to wear one at all.”

“I looked around the hallways and saw the bare wrists of my classmates,” Sarah recalls, “feeling like this bracelet had huge arrows pointing to it with big flashing lights. In reality, nobody noticed it except for the people who were trained to. I wish I realized that sooner.”

“I think my pediatrician said it best when he said, ‘In the event something happens, food allergies would be the last thing someone thinks of when it should be the first. With food allergies, treatment needs to be immediate—there is absolutely no time to wait.’”

“After that,” says Sarah, “I never took my bracelet off again.”

Empowered by my food allergies and MedicAlert

If you are living with life-threatening food allergies, a MedicAlert medical ID can be by your side 24/7. A MedicAlert ID provides assistance and protection in everyday life. This is especially true in the event of an accident or other medical emergency.

“I have had a number of conversations with people who think they no longer need a MedicAlert bracelet as they get older,” says Sarah. “That couldn’t be further from the truth. As I now work to educate others about the importance of MedicAlert, I point out the incredible benefits that often go unrealized.”

A MedicAlert ID bracelet links health professionals to the information they need to assist individual’s living with allergies. This is true whether the person has been in an accident or during a routine doctor’s visit. In addition, a MedicAlert bracelet includes designated physician information, as well as in case of emergency (ICE) contacts.

“If something were to happen,” says Sarah, “I find great comfort in knowing that because of my [MedicAlert] bracelet, all the right people could be reached.”

Facts About
Food Allergies

1 in 13 children have a food allergy.

More than 15% of school-aged children with food allergies have had a reaction in school.

The majority of fatal food allergy reactions are triggered by food consumed outside the home.

The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT) reports that 5.6 million children under age 18 live with food allergies

That’s one in 13 children or roughly two in every classroom, reports the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). In addition, more than 15% of school-aged children living with food allergies have had an allergic reaction at school. Moreover, more than 50% of severe food allergy reactions occur away from home.

Severe food allergy reactions can lead to anaphylaxis—a life-threatening, rapid-onset reaction that can lead to death. The threat of a potentially fatal reaction such as anaphylaxis creates fear and anxiety for parents. This is especially true for the child who has to live with this threat every day. It doesn’t have to be this way. MedicAlert can help.

Our medical IDs, including bracelets, necklaces, and Smart IDs, can help alert school officials and teachers that your child is living with life-threatening food allergies. This enables them to play an active role in keeping your child away from offending foods. What’s more, should your child come in contact with foods they are allergic to, a MedicAlert ID prompts quick action, saving precious time in an emergency.

Sarah's MedicAlert bracelet

Sarah’s sterling silver MedicAlert bracelet is coated with rhodium, which resists scratches and tarnishing. The rhodium coating makes this bracelet ideal for those who are sensitive to metals. In addition to sterling silver, our classic embossed medical ID bracelet is available in a variety of metals. This includes 10-karat gold, stainless steel, and two-tone. Finally, the globally-recognized, embossed MedicAlert emblem is prominently displayed on a marquise-shaped plate. This shiny accessory is attached to a stylish curb chain secured with a lobster clasp. Custom engraving on all MedicAlert medical ID products is free.

“I am well into my twenties and I still look forward to picking out a new bracelet,” says Sarah. “I will continue to wear my MedicAlert ID to keep me safe.”

See how MedicAlert protects people with food allergies here.

Read more about MedicAlert members

Read more about MedicAlert members