DON’T be shy about your allergies

13th June 2018

If you have read my post ‘How to deal with allergies’ you will know I think that not being shy is the most important factor when it comes to preventing an allergy from happening. Below I go into more detail on why it’s so important to be open with other people as well as giving you some real life stories from my past.

When I was younger I knew NO ONE else with any allergies. Even though I still don’t know many people with them now, or no one with anaphylaxis anyway, a lot more people are familiar with allergies whether it’s themselves or a friend that suffers. I was always shy and ashamed of my allergies (and still kind of am), I always thought I was being a pain so I wouldn’t tell people. However, this can cause so many issues! Such as going to your friends house for the first time and being cooked a meal, you have no idea what ingredients have been used in it and it’s too late to bring it up once it’s been made! Obviously when you’re younger I’m sure your parents will let the appropriate people know, however when you get older the responsibility falls on you! Additionally it’s worth creating an ‘emergency care plan’ clearly pointing out symptoms to look out for and then a step by step guide of what to do if you start to react and who to get in touch with in an emergency. This can be given to friends, friend’s parents, teachers, club leaders etc and could end up saving your life if you are not in a fit state to look after yourself. If you are anaphylactic then it’s worth briefly explaining how to actually use an epipen on your care plan and include step by step pictures! Most people don’t actually know how to administer an epipen which results in them either stabbing themselves, not injecting it fully, or injecting you in the wrong place, which is not much use!

Another example of where you can’t afford to be shy is in restaurants. My absolute worst… you know at the bottom of the menu in tiny print it always tells you to mention or ask the waiter or waitress any questions in regards to your allergy… would I do this? NO! However, I am more confident now and have realised the importance of it. In all honesty it does depend on your allergy and the seriousness of it, however if it is a potential threat then it’s worth just asking the question. I soon came to learn that many of my home cooked favourite dishes had nuts or nut oil in when made in a restaurant so that’s why I now ask because different places use different ingredients! For example, and to my surprise, chips are often cooked in a nut oil (to be fair it’s not too common in the UK just now, but abroad, in places like France it is). Also, so many desserts like sticky toffee pudding and chocolate brownies often have nuts. WHYYY?! Many restaurants do often identity some of the most common allergens next to the appropriate dishes these days, but I would still mention your allergy to the waiter or waitress so that the chefs can be extra careful in making sure no cross contamination occurs.

Another thing I’ve learnt since joining the adult world is that it’s worth letting your employer and colleagues know about any serious allergies so they know what to do and what signs to look out for if anything were to happen. I let my colleagues know where I kept my epipen and how to use it in case for whatever reason I was unable to do it myself! It all comes down to confidence (which I highly lack) but for the sake of your life just be open, even for 5 minutes!

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  • Reply
    The Travelling Sociologist
    27th July 2018 at 12:49 pm

    There’s some great, solid advice here, and I admire you for speaking up about this important issue. When it comes to making others aware of food allergies or food intolerances, I’m sure most people can relate to shyness and embarrassment – no one wants to be a “special needs” case or to be a bother. I especially like your recommendation to create an emergency care plan – clearly, that’s lifesaving.

    • Reply
      27th July 2018 at 5:34 pm

      Thank you! Exactly no one wants to be a pain however we do need to often make ourselves and our lives a priority and just speak up.

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