Living With Allergies

Hi guys,

Today I wanted to raise awareness on how important food allergies are and how it can be a difficult day to day task to deal with them.

I have a lot of friends who suffer from nut and peanut allergies and I have been lucky to have people that I could go to, to discuss how I feel and what to eat and how to live basically.

Some people don’t realise the extreme affects food allergies from eggs, fish, some fruits, nuts and peanuts can have on you and how it can be a life or death situation.

I have suffered from Asthma since I was three years old and it came along with many allergies to dogs, cats (well all furry animals really), grass, pollen and dust. I managed to go fifteen years without realising I had grown into having a severe nut and peanut allergy that had came from being asthmatic … little did I know that you can grow into allergies as well as growing out of them.

I am someone who has experienced life without a food allergy and life with a food allergy as I just mentioned. I cannot stress enough how life changing it is living with one, which sounds slightly dramatic but there is not a day that goes by where you can’t think about being allergic to nuts and peanuts. I still find it bizarre to think that I used to be carefree eating a jar of Nutella with a spoon, eating Chinese and Indian food, being able to try some exotic food abroad and not be scared to taste something my friend or family member has asked me to taste. Now I need to even check my shampoo to see if it contains any almond oil hahah! Simple things like having to take the time to look at packaging on food, going out to a restaurant, flying abroad, someone opening a bag of nuts or peanuts in front of you … it is on going. Not only did it change my life but my families too. My mum and dad live for Bombay Mix and KP nuts on a Friday night in front of the T.V and now they can’t eat anything like that around the house incase I take a reaction. When we go food shopping it takes a while to check ingredients of food packaging and toiletries as well. Cooking can also be a hassle, sometimes we need to have separate dishes and deep clean pots and pans.

When my first mild reaction occurred I was in an Asian restaurant in Lanzarote where my friend ordered chicken with a dip in sauce and told me to try a piece. I did and it was amazing … I started to feel like something wasn’t right … my lips started to swell slightly and I had difficulty breathing and started to wheeze like I do when my Asthma flares up. My parents and my friend were telling me to drink water and take my inhaler. I did just that, took two antihistamines and I started to feel better. I was so confused as to what had happened although I just ignored it. When you grow into an allergy the more often you are exposed to it, the quicker the reaction occurs.

I came back to Glasgow and a month or so later and went to a local bar/restaurant with my mum and family friends for food one evening and had decided to order a chicken satay which is basically crushed up peanuts and I finished the lot. About two/three minutes passed and I was coming out in hives, my lips had swollen, I had trouble breathing, I felt like I was going to faint …. I had similar feelings to the mild reaction except they were amplified. An ambulance was phoned and it arrived so quickly, I was so lucky. They then shocked us all by telling me I am allergic to nuts and peanuts and that I was going into anaphylactic shock. This is where your body’s natural defence system over reacts to a trigger and essentially goes into shutdown mode. After being injected with adrenaline I could feel the reaction reversing gradually. When I arrived at the hospital I was so overwhelmed by the situation that I couldn’t believe what had just happened, I knew myself I was lucky to be alive after hearing horror stories about people not making it.

It took me a while to adjust to living with my food allergy, I was scared to eat out and I felt worried about eating normal things that wouldn’t cause a reaction just incase the same thing happened again, however overtime it has gotten better. Sometimes, I get apprehensive when I eat out just because I panic incase something does happen. Living with a food allergy can be mentally challenging just as much as it can be physically.

Food restaurant chains that are great for dealing with allergies are:

  • T.G.I Friday’s
  • Hard Rock Cafe
  • Nandos
  • Miller and Carter Steakhouse

Local Glasgow restaurants that are great for dealing with allergies are:

  • Paesano’s Pizza
  • BRGR
  • Cafe Strange Brew
  • TriBecca
  • Amore
  • La Vita
  • Cafe Andaluz

There are a lot of precautions you can take to make sure a reaction doesn’t happen such as:

  • Always carry two Epi-Pen auto injectors on you
  • Always carry anti-histamines
  • Make sure whoever is with you is aware on how to use your Epi-Pen
  • If you go abroad alert the airline how you are allergic to nuts
  • Use translate cards when travelling abroad. I used the APP ‘Nuts and Peanuts Allergy Translation’ however there are many others that allow you to select what you are allergic to.
  • When eating out, always let waiters and waitresses aware of your allergy, even if it is a hamburger with chips … you need know if there is a sauce or seasoning that has something in it you can’t have

I hope this post has allowed people to be slightly more aware of allergies. I hope that it has helped people who have them know that they are able to talk to people about it and that it is normal to feel wary when eating out and trying new things. Just know you aren’t the only one and that there is always someone to talk to.

Alana xo 

 

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