It was a brilliant sunny day. My daughter and me were running late for the nursery enjoying the sunshine, the song of the birds and all the beautiful flowers on our way. In laughter and joy we reached the nursery only to witness two ambulances on the parking lot.
My heart started beating so hard that it was soon to break out through my chest. The emotion that overtook me was so overwhelming that my head hurt. What I learnt few moments later was that one of the staff had got an allergic reaction. She ordered lunch along with her colleagues but shortly after she experienced difficulties breathing.
The ambulance came right on time to administer adrenaline injection and conclude she got anaphylaxis – a severe allergic reaction. Luckily, the woman felt better shortly after.
Now, this article is not about the occurence of an event that happens to so many people either way. It is, however, aimed at disclosing some useful information that I was not aware of before but could be of utmost importance is safeguarding the wellbeing of someone with food allergy.
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that could be life threatening if not taken immediate action upon. It can be sudden and get worse very quickly. Usually, it has some of the following symptoms:
- breathing difficulties
- trouble swallowing
- feeling dizzy or faint
Other mild food allergy reactions might include:
- tingling or itching in the mouth
- a raised, itchy red rash (hives)
- swelling of the face, mouth, throat or other areas of the body
- difficulty swallowing
- wheezing or shortness of breath
- feeling dizzy and lightheaded
- feeling sick or vomiting
- abdominal pain or diarrhoea
- hay fever
FOOD CAUSING ALLERGIC REACTIONS
As with any food allergy, it occurs because the immune system mistakenly treats proteins found in food as a threat to which it naturally reacts. The most common foods that might cause an allergic reaction are:
- peanuts (legume)
- tree nuts
- some fruit and vegetables
AIRBORN ALLERGIC REACTIONS
In certain cases, there is a risk of airborne allergic reactions. According to Dr. Sicherer*, in order for this occur, the food protein has to be disturbed in a way to get it aerosolized. This might happen when steaming milk or shellfish, frying eggs or fish, boiling soup or distributing powdery forms, such as when cooking with food flours.
Unfortunately, it is not yet known why some people develop allergies to food. However, what we should know is how to react in case someone around us suffers from allergy or experiences an allergic reaction.
First, always comes prevention. Older people who are aware of their allergies know how to take care of themselves. However, if you have kids at home, make sure that they do not have access to foods that can trigger allergic reactions. If you offer food bought in a package or ordered in a restaurant, always ensure that you are aware of all the ingredients. Talk to all relatives, friends and teachers and inform them of your kid’s allergies. Provide them with guidlines what alternative foods they can offer instead. Give specfics on what actions they should take shall the kid experience an allergic reaction.
Second, immediate medical assisstance or application of adrenaline self-injections. For those who have proven food allergies and are likely to experience severe allergic reactions, they might already have personal adrenaline injectors that they/you could apply in cases of anaphylaxis. In any case, look for immediate medical assisstance by calling 999.
After the above case, my daughter’s nursery sent due information to all parents. We were asked to make sure that there is no food left in any of our kids’ backpacks, lockers or pockets. The reason is that lots of the kids and the staff have proven food allergies and any contact with a food from the list above can cause an impact.
If some parents insist on bringing home made food, then it should be duely labelled which ingredients it includes and handed over to staff upon entering the nursery.
Apart from this, nursery staff brush their teeth and wash their faces and hands after consuming foods that are known for causing allergic reactions.
These guidlines are brilliant in each everyday setting – your office, your home… Taking actions to prevent such occurences is the most important factor of saving someone’s life. Take a step further. Be a good companion. In life. At work. At home. Everywhere.
*Dr. Scott Sicherer is a practicing allergist, clinical researcher and professor of pediatrics. He is Director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute and Chief of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. He’s also the author of Food Allergies: A Complete Guide for Eating When Your Life Depends On It.