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Dear Abby: I am a 25-year-old woman with a food allergy. Last year I was a guest at a Thanksgiving dinner where the host insisted I could eat the food “since there was just a little in there.”

I understand that making separate food is difficult, but all I ask is that people let me know if a dish contains an ingredient that will make me sick. Would you please print a message about allergy awareness before the holidays?

– Not Picky, Really Allergic in Illinois

Dear Really Allergic: I’m glad to raise awareness because every year there is at least one story in the media about some poor individual winding up in an emergency room or dying because of an allergic reaction. Exposure to even a trace of a substance that an individual is allergic to is dangerous because “just a little” can hurt you. The symptoms of a potentially fatal allergic reaction – which have appeared in this column before –are a tingling sensation, itching or metallic taste in the mouth followed by hives, a sensation of warmth, asthma symptoms, swelling of the mouth and throat area, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, a drop in blood pressure and loss of consciousness.

The symptoms can occur in as few as five to 15 minutes after exposure, but life-threatening reactions may progress over several hours. Someone experiencing these symptoms should be treated at the nearest emergency room or hospital. This information was provided by Food Allergy Research and Education, an organization whose mission is to raise public awareness about food allergies, provide education and advance research. Its website is loaded with valuable information on this important subject. Check it out at www.foodallergy.org.

Show some respect

Dear Abby: Last week I attended two events for my grandchildren. Both times during the performance I saw electronic devices turned on throughout the audience. It seemed that parents were encouraging children to play video games, watch movies or surf the Internet instead of pay attention to the show. It drove me crazy.

What are these parents teaching their children? Not only are they missing out on the experience, but they are also being taught terrible manners. Am I wrong?

– Holding My Tongue

Dear Holding: No, you’re 100 percent right. Before many performances, the director or principal will request that electronic devices be turned off. That’s what should have been done at the concert and recital you attended. Parents who allow or encourage their children to behave this way aren’t doing their job, which is to teach them to be respectful of the performers and the effort that was put into the show.