Monday, January 27, 2014

Valentine’s Day Pop Quiz: Fact or Myth

By Kelley Lindberg

[Thank you to everyone who sent me kind messages about the passing of my father, who taught me how to live life with integrity, strength, and a healthy sense of humor. Because I’m a little swamped right now, I’m letting Mylan, the manufacturer of EpiPens, provide my blog content this week. Thanks, Mylan.]

The marketers and distributers of EpiPen® (epinephrine) Auto-Injector did some research on the trends for Valentine’s Day, and they found some statistics that might surprise you. Pop quiz! See if you can guess whether the following statements are myth or fact.

·         Myth or Fact: Valentine’s Day is the most popular occasion for sending greeting cards
Myth! According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 145 million greeting cards will be bought for Valentine's Day, making it the second most-popular card-sending occasion in the U.S. Christmas is the most popular.

·         Myth or Fact: Everyone loves to get a box of chocolates
Myth! For people who have potentially life-threatening (severe) allergies, getting a box of chocolate might not be a welcome gift. Many chocolates may contain some of the most common food allergens like cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts.

·         Myth or Fact: The average adult spends more than $100 to celebrate Valentine’s Day
Fact! The average adult celebrating the holiday will shell out $126.03, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2012 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions survey.

·         Myth or Fact: More than half of people purchased flowers or plants as gifts for Valentine's Day 2013
Myth! Twenty-five percent of adults purchased flowers or plants as gifts for Valentine's Day 2013; of those, 64% were men and 36% were women, according to

·         Myth or Fact: You can experience a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) from a kiss
Fact! It is possible to experience a life-threatening allergic reaction if you kiss someone who has eaten something to which you are allergic. Your best bet is to ask your loved one to stay away from your allergens before you pucker up.

For more information about EpiPens and anaphylaxis, visit or

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Zoe’s Silver Award Girl Scout Project

By Kelley Lindberg

After taking off a few weeks for the holidays, it’s time to jump back in to my blog. Today I’m excited to welcome a special guest blogger, Zoe, who has just completed a wonderful project for her Girl Scout Silver Award. Thanks, Zoe!

Hi, I am Zoe, and I am a 13-year-old Girl Scout. In Girl Scouts there is a project that Cadettes do called a Silver Award. For my Silver Award I wanted to spread awareness about food allergies and anaphylactic shock, because my 7-year-old sister has a peanut allergy, and not many people know what that is or what to do if she ever eats a peanut. So if you do not know what anaphylaxis is, it is a life-threatening food allergy reaction that happens when you eat your allergen.

To start spreading awareness I came up with the idea to do an information booth. I have done them at schools and booth events. So far I have done 6 booths and they have all gone very well. At those booths I wanted to see what the general public knows about food allergies, so I found a little survey. Here are the results.

I found this survey at the AllergyHome website,, and used it for my questions.

1. True or False? You will experience anaphylaxis if the food that you are allergic to touches your skin.
7/16 said true
8/16 said false
1 said half/half
The answer is it really depends. Studies suggest that skin contact alone seldom causes anaphylactic reactions, unless the allergen is somehow transferred to the mouth, eyes, or nose. In addition, reactions can change drastically with each exposure, so don’t assume you won’t have an anaphylactic reaction next time just because your last reaction was mild.

2. True or False? Using hand-sanitizing gels (like Purell) is a good way to clean your hands of food allergens?
2/16 said true
14/16 said false
The answer is no, hand sanitizers just spread the allergens around but do not kill them. Studies show soap and water is the best way to remove food allergens. If soap and water are not available, a wet wipe is the second-best choice.

3. True or False? The smell of peanut butter will cause an allergic reaction in people with peanut allergies.
11/16 said true
4/16 said false
1/16 said it depends
The answer is it does depend how allergic they are to it. The smell alone does not contain the proteins that cause reactions. However, if peanut dust or powder is floating in the room (or airplane, for example), that dust or powder may contain the protein and can cause a reaction in sensitive people.

4. True or False? You can have an allergic reaction if you share your friend’s water bottle.
12/16 said true
4/16 said false
The answer is yes you can and most likely will have an allergic reaction. Sharing anything that could transfer saliva (forks, cups, bites of each other’s food, etc.) is a bad idea.

5. True or False? Washing a table with a Clorox wipe can be enough to clean a food allergen from the table?
9/16 said true
7/16 said false
The answer is True. Common household cleaners are effective at removing allergens if they are used carefully and thoroughly on the table.

6. True or False? If someone eats a food you are allergic to and then kisses you on the cheek, you will have a serious (i.e., anaphylactic) reaction.
5/16 said true
11/16 said false
The answer is it depends. In most cases, reactions to a kiss on the cheek are mild, such as a rash. But anaphylactic reactions have been reported, and kisses on the lips are more likely to cause serious reactions because of the possibility of ingesting the allergen after the kiss.

7. True or False? If you have ordered food at a restaurant and didn’t have a reaction in the past, will you be safe if you order the same food again?
2/16 said true
14/16 said false
The answer is False because of the possibility of cross contamination. Always tell your server about your allergies and ask them to double-check ingredients and verify the food handling for your meal.

8. True or False? Benadryl should be given first for a serious allergic reaction?
8/16 said true
8/16 said false
The answer is False. An EpiPen or other epinephrine autoinjector always comes first.

9. True or False? The needle in the Epipen or Twinject is long?
2/16 said true
14/16 said false
The answer is False. Needles in epinephrine autoinjectors are only about a half-inch long.

For my overall experience it was very good. I met many interesting and nice people. I learned a lot of things that I did not know before. And I had a lot of fun doing it! And a special thanks to everyone that helped me with the surveys.

                                                                                                            - Zoe

(And special thanks to Dr. John Lee at for giving us permission to reprint their survey here.)