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Skies Not-So-Friendly for Passengers With Nut Allergies
Date:3/15/2013

FRIDAY, March 15 (HealthDay News) -- For most passengers, airline travel is safer than ever these days. But for people with peanut or tree-nut allergies, a routine flight can end in disaster.

Many airlines still serve peanuts and tree nuts, or snacks and meals that contain these products, which can cause severe reactions in allergic travelers.

An international online survey completed by 3,200 passengers revealed that 349 had suffered an allergic reaction during an airline flight, according to a new study.

Although the risk of an in-flight reaction is small, "it's hard to imagine a more helpless situation than having a reaction while you're at 35,000 feet in an airplane," lead study author Dr. Matthew Greenhawt, of the Food Allergy Center at the University of Michigan, said in a university news release.

"This study identifies some things passengers can do to reduce their anxiety," Greenhawt said. "We want them to fly. It can help improve their quality of life."

Passengers who took certain precautions were much less likely to have suffered an allergic reaction while flying, the study authors found. These measures included:

  • Requesting any type of allergy-related accommodation
  • Requesting a peanut/tree nut-free meal
  • Cleaning their tray table with a sanitizing wipe
  • Avoiding use of airline pillows and blankets
  • Requesting a peanut/tree nut-free buffer zone
  • Requesting that other passengers not eat products with peanuts or tree nuts
  • Not eating airline-provided food

The study was published in the March issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology-In Practice.

"Flying with a peanut/tree nut allergy is equal parts frustrating and frightening for allergic passengers," said Greenhawt. These passenger-initiated behaviors may help concerned patients planning to fly commercially, he added.

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Skies Not-So-Friendly for Passengers With Nut Allergies 
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