Allergies, especially those to food, are on the rise in New Zealand, with young children being the most affected.

Between six to eight percent of young New Zealanders have an allergy or multiple allergies to food.

Dairy, egg and peanuts are the top three allergens, followed by tree nuts (eg. cashews, almonds), soy, wheat, seeds, fish and shellfish.  However an allergic reaction can occur to any kind of food.

The symptoms of allergic reactions range from eczema, hives and swelling to vomiting, stomach pains and collapse. The most severe form of an allergic reaction is anaphylaxis where both the cardiovascular and respiratory systems are involved.

Caring for a family member with food allergies or intolerance can be challenging, however with the right information and support, allergy sufferers can live happy, healthy, active lifestyles.

Allergy New Zealand is a national charity that provides support, advocacy and information for people living with food allergies, anaphylaxis and other allergies or allergic conditions.

Allergy Awareness Week is being held from the 15 – 21 May 2011.

For more information about allergies or to request a free food allergy information pack visit http://www.allergy.org.nz/

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