DOTHAN, Al. (WTVY) - The holidays mean lots of parties and food.
And for parents whose kids suffer from food allergies, this time can be difficult.
Ariel has suffered from food allergies since she was born, 15 years ago.
Ariel Stokes, food allergy sufferer says:
"Eggs, peanuts, all types of fish like seafood, and like raw tomatoes, onions...basically everything."
Throughout her life, Ariel has had scary experiences.
Olivia Starling, Ariel’s mother says:
"We did have like three big anaphylaxis episodes with her and Ariel is a strong teenager, I'm the weak one."
"I don't let it get to me, it used to get to me to me when i was little but it just helped me stronger now because I used to cry a lot."
The tears have made her who she is today.
"It's going to be hard at first, because you're going to be like what can't I eat this? Why can't I eat that...you won't understand why you can't when you're little but when you get older, you'll get used to it all of that and the parents...it's going to get easier for them."
And her story is not that unusual.
Dr. Mark kalenian, MD with the Alabama Allergy and Asthma Center says:
"About 3 to 4 percent of adults and about 6 to 8 percent of children have that, food allergies so we're talking about millions."
During the holiday season, Dr. Kalenian says the risks are high.
So what do you do?
Dr. Kalenian continues with:
"They should let the host know of their child's food allergies, and hopefully provide a list if possible and ask about any ingredients that might be in certain items."
"It's good to bring other items other than food to the party such as crafts, games, other similar items to keep the kids occupied so that you're not as worried about what the child is exposed to."
Ariel knows the struggle all too well.
"So we all got to buy certain stuff so I just buy what I want but I just don't eat it basically."
For holiday parties, her mom preps her food beforehand.
"If she knows there's food there that she can't eat, she won't touch it so that helps me a lot to know that she's older and can deal with it."
So whether it be the holidays or any day of the year...
There are 2 crucial things to keep in mind.
Olivia finishes with:
"Always use the EpiPen, no matter what- just use that EpiPen do not hesitate."
Dr. Kalenian finishes with:
"Well you always need to ask questions of the manger at the restaurant the worker may give the wrong information."
And if you do, chances are you won't be sorry and the holidays will be happy.
Every year, about 200 people die from food allergies.
Below are a few other holiday tips to consider for allergy sufferers:
Be aware that cross contamination can occur during preparation or serving.
Take turns keeping an eye on allergic children and make sure you know their allergies.
Never leave 2 EpiPen’s and don’t rely on Benadryl.
With a live Christmas Tree, wait until a few days before Christmas to bring it inside and remove it soon after the holiday season.
Artificial trees can be an alternative but keep the tree and decorations free from dust and mold by storing them in dry containers.
Fragrant odors can be an issue for those with allergies, and asthma, especially Christmas wreaths, potpourri and holiday air fresheners and scented candles.
Be careful spraying artificial snow as the spray can irritate asthma.
Smoke from the fireplace can worsen allergies and asthma so make sure you check the fireplace to make sure it ventilates well.
Although allergic cases to poinsettias are rare, there is some evidence of possible cross reactivity to some latex problems.
Be aware on the road, one can have allergies if staying in a relative’s bedroom or a hotel room with dust mites or being allergic to a relative or friends pet.
One can have allergies after returning home to a cat or dog called the “Thanksgiving Effect” when one loses tolerance to one’s pet after traveling and then experiences allergies coming home.
Stress can increase the risk of asthma flares and stress reduction techniques such as meditation can help.