Don’t put that in your mouth!

“Spending my 12th birthday in the emergency room of a hospital that was nicknamed ‘May-die’ by the locals is not one of my fondest memories. Especially because it involved my head swelling to twice its original size after just one bite of birthday cake…”

Student blogger James tells us all about his impromptu visit to the emergency room:

I had in fact suffered an allergic reaction. Annoyingly, up until that day I had gone 4380 days (12 years) without ever having any issues with food. So I was understandably shocked when, whilst eating a slice of birthday cake, I suddenly felt an itchiness in my throat. Unbeknown to me, this was the initial symptom of an allergic reaction, it seems I’d managed to pick the only cake in the whole bakery that contained nuts. I don’t remember much of the whole ordeal after my face began to swell, because my eyes were stuck shut within seconds. Yup, I had a nut allergy. The good news is I haven’t had a reaction since my 12th birthday. Once I was aware of my allergy, I knew how to avoid it – even when living in halls.

My housemate has an allergy, how can I help them?

First off, don’t throw peanut M&M’s at the back of their head. Although it won’t cause an allergic reaction (due to the candy shell…duh!), it is really annoying. If you find out that your housemate has an allergy, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Find out and understand what specific allergy they have. Seeing as there are seven categories with hundreds of sub categories between them, you don’t want to be working this out whilst your housemates head balloons in size. It also helps to discover how severe their allergy is, this lets you roughly know how long you have before it gets really bad.
An ‘auto injecting’ Epipen, used by anaphylactic shock sufferers.
  1. Keep a mini emergency kit around the house/flat/halls you live in, containing whatever it is they need in case of a reaction e.g. an epipen, allergy tablets, asthma inhaler. This is important and prevents you from rummaging through their belongings whilst they roll around on the floor.
  2. Find out where your nearest hospital is and (if you or one of your housemates has a car) set up the address in your sat-nav so you know exactly where you need to go if an attack occurs.
  3. When you cook food containing nuts e.g. meat dishes, sauces, desserts etc… just let them know what utensils you have used and try to clean them as quickly as possible. This will really help to prevent any possible reactions caused by food residue.
  4. Don’t be a nuisance, allergies can be very unpredictable at times and it’s best not to do anything to provoke a reaction, even if it seems funny at the time. You won’t be laughing when your housemate is struggling to breathe because you rubbed a snickers on the back of their neck.
  5. Finally, if you think you’ll forget these steps then the best thing to do is create an ‘action plan’. This is nowhere near as exciting as it sounds but is vitally important when dealing with someone who is having an allergic reaction. The quicker you act, the better, and some form of plan will really help to speed things along.