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Wondering if it's a Food Allergy?

There’s an ‘app’ for that


Food allergies are on the rise. As a result, countless kids and families live in fear over potentially serious reactions such as anaphylaxis. And because it can be hard to tell whether a symptom is due to a food allergy or something else, many of them make unnecessary appointments to allergy clinics, trips to the emergency department, or avoid certain foods altogether.

The Division of Allergy & Immunology and BC Children’s Hospital’s Digital Lab—a unit that develops digital health solutions to improve care—joined forces to help. They’ve launched a mobile e-health tool that’s unlike any other, called Allergy Check. With just a few clicks, it tells parents and families the likelihood that their child is dealing with a potentially severe food allergy.

“We saw in our clinic that there was often confusion between the symptoms of a potentially life-threatening food allergy and a food sensitivity,” said Dr. Edmond Chan, head of the Division of Allergy & Immunology and the Colonel Harland Sanders Allergy Clinic at BC Children’s Hospital. “So we developed an easy-to-use web-based tool to help kids and families understand when they should be concerned.”

Here’s how it works: visitors are asked to identify their symptoms (each one includes a photo for good measure) and then answer a few quick questions. An algorithm then takes those responses and provides a personalized result that explains the likelihood that they have a food allergy. Not only that, it offers suggestions on whether to see an allergist and provides links to helpful resources. Stakeholder partners include Food Allergy Canada and the Canadian Society of Allergy & Clinical Immunology.

“While we’ve designed the tool to be simple and intuitive for our families to use, behind-the-scenes is a complex set of algorithms that have gone through rigorous validation and testing,” said John Jacob, senior director of the Digital Lab.

The ultimate goal of the tool is to reduce the need for unnecessary appointments and to help kids with true food allergies get the care they need sooner. It also allows kids around the province and the world to gain allergy education from the experts at BC Children’s Hospital.

Visit the site at allergycheck.ca


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