The One Time I Did Not Ask About Nuts In a Restaurant

My name is Mathew and I am allergic to all tree nuts and peanuts. Recently I was hosting an event that I was planning on presenting at, but my time to speak was preceded by a trip to the emergency room.

I have never had an anaphylactic reaction but I do know my allergy to nuts is severe enough that ingesting small amounts of the allergen may trigger a life-threatening reaction. The event I hosted included a variety of food options that at first glance contained no nuts of any sort. On the tables there were vegetarian and non-vegetarian pizzas as well as meat and cheese trays.

Leading up to the presentation, I was somewhat nervous and wasvery focused on what I was going to say. I was somewhat hungry but I avoided food, not because of the risk of allergens, because I was very focused on my presentation. One of the people working with me handed me a slice of vegetarian pizza. I would normally ask a server, manager or owner about nuts but instead I quickly ate it and continued to work on the points I wanted to hit in my presentation. This may have been the first time I have ever forgot to ask about nuts because I was so focused on something else. Pizza, especially in a restaurant compared to a fast food chain, is a dish that one must always be careful with because of the potential for there to be nuts in pesto.

NewYorkSlice

Within a minute of finishing the pizza I felt tingling in the sides of my mouth, throat and lips. The feeling was very similar to what one would feel when they are getting their mouth frozen at the dentist. The cause quickly dawned on me. There must have been pesto on the pizza. I quickly told one of my fellow organizers that I was sure I was having a reaction and would likely have to leave for the hospital. I then found theowner to ask about nuts. The owner confirmed that therewere nuts in the pesto that was on the pizza I ate but a very minute amount. Although the reaction was not progressing very fast, I quickly had one of my co-workers drive me to the hospital emergency room because this is an experience that I have never had and did not want to take any chances.

Emergency

On my way I called my family to tell them where I was going and they said they would meet me there. Once I arrived at the hospital, I told the emergency staff of the situation and they assessed my status. I did not need immediate assistance but it was important that if I did, I was in a place that would be able to handle the reaction quickly. I had my auto-injector with me and I was ready to use it, but luckily it was not needed. The reaction did not progress any further than the minor swelling which eventually subsided after being given an antihistamine. I was grateful of my co-worker for getting me there quickly, as well as my family for coming to make sure that I was okay.

I learned a valuable lesson that day: it is critical to always ask the staff about the food you are eating at their restaurant. This is a priority above all else.

Beauty Products with Allergens

Originally posted on Adults with Allergies Blog:

Portrait of beautiful woman with blue eyes. Isolated on white background

Summer is a great time to try out new kinds of makeup and fun color combinations. But a lot of people aren’t aware of all the different ingredients that go into makeup. This is especially important for people with allergies. An allergy to a makeup product might manifest as redness, itchiness, hives or blisters; so it’s important to know what’s in your makeup.

One of the most surprising ingredients in makeup I’ve come across is fish. It’s usually listed as “pearlescence” in the ingredients list (probably because no one wants to put fish on their face). It’s found mostly in lipstick and is used to make it shiny, like the scales on a fish. You can find more details about it at the following links:

http://animals.howstuffworks.com/fish/herring-info.htm

http://www.businessinsider.com/15-surprising-things-that-contain-animal-products-2014-3

http://www.cosmeticsandskin.com/cdc/pearl-essence.php

If you’re allergic to fish and want to be safe, there are companies like Smashbox that don’t use any animal byproducts in…

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Taking Control of Your Own Allergies

As a teenager or a young adult, taking control of your allergies can be tough. You have to do all the things your parents did for you when you were younger. This ranges from calling a restaurant in advance to booking your own doctor appointments. Inevitably, this involves a lot of talking to people, sometimes arguing with them, inconveniencing them, and standing up for yourself.

One of the hardest parts of taking control is communicating with other people. These people can be your friends, a restaurant waiter, or a flight stewardess, and they all need to be informed of your allergies. If you’re shy or introverted, this can be especially difficult. It’s scary to wonder if that person will judge you, roll their eyes, laugh at you, etc. It’s really best to get used to this anxiety while you’re young, because you’ll have to deal with people’s reactions for the rest of your life. I tried a bunch of different communication strategies before finding one that worked for me. Scaring people by telling them they could kill you tends to freak them out, but down-playing the severity of your allergies can lead to situations which put you in danger.

Asking for accommodations can be scary as well. It sucks to have to ask a group of people to rearrange their plans so you can go to a restaurant with them, but if they’re really your friends they probably want you to join them and be safe. Personally, I find talking to waiters to be the hardest. Most waiters are accommodating, but sometimes if they’re really busy they might brush you off or dismiss you. If you don’t feel like they’re taking you seriously, ask for another waiter. There’s nothing more important than your safety. You’re the only one who is responsible for your health, so if you feel like the waiters are wishy-washy, ask to speak to a manager or the chef.

One of the more uncomfortable conversations you’ll have to have will be with your girlfriend/boyfriend. Since you’ll be spending a lot of time with this person and probably kissing them, it’s important that they know all about your allergies and how to handle them. They might have to watch what they eat if they’ll be seeing you that day, or brush their teeth and waiting an extended period of time before coming over. The unfortunate truth is that some people are not willing to do this. These are not the people you want to date, no matter how cute they are. Stand up for yourself, and if they don’t care about your health, move on.

Finally, be okay with messing up sometimes. You might forget your auto-injector at home one day and have to run back and get it, or forget to renew a prescription and have to run to the pharmacy at midnight. These things happen, and they’re part of the process of growing up and taking control. The important thing is to learn from these mistakes so you don’t make them again.

Blog perspective from a Yapper’s PARENT about fears of having children taking control over allergies 

Letting go of the “parental reigns” is hard enough at the best of times. But when you have a child with allergies, the task is monumental. That’s because the stakes are so much higher if you misjudge your child’s ability to take responsibility for their well-being.

As the parent of a now 23-year-old allergic child, I freely and unabashedly admit that I hung onto those proverbial reigns as long as I could. Was it longer than needed? I don’t think so. When you have a “healthy” child, you can encourage independence by letting them suffer the consequences of their mistakes, since as we all know, life’s lessons are best learned through personal experience. But that approach certainly doesn’t work here, because the potential consequences of not being prepared in the event of an emergency are dire. So how do we reconcile letting our children take control of their allergies and keeping them safe at the same time?parent

The first step is to know your child. Because of their condition, you cannot “push” them to be responsible. Your child needs to understand the implications of their allergies, but remember that it is typically not before age 7 (and as late as 10) that they can fully grasp the concept of death. This knowledge is a game-changer for an al
lergic child, and how they respond is anyone’s guess. Some may mature overnight. Others may be unable to deal with this overwhelming new realization and pretend it’s not real. Let their response be your guide and respond accordingly.

As they get older, they will notice what steps you take to keep them safe, for example, calling ahead before an outing to see what food will be served. If your child is an extrovert, you can ask them if they would like to make the call. But bear in mind that these calls mean talking to adults, and most children are not comfortable doing that until well into their teens.

Never lose sight of the fact that you are a parent and that this is not a popularity contest. They may roll their eyes on the way out when you ask (again!) if they have their auto-injector and asthma medication with them.
As teens, they may not want to divulge where they’re going, and although they won’t make the necessary calls, they won’t want you to either. Stand firm.

When you have an allergic child, it’s hard not to be a helicopter parent. Using that metaphor, then I was a 737 jet. I make no excuses, and I have no regrets. Until this day I am making sure my daughter follows up with her pulmonary specialist and allergist. There is nothing I would like better than to shed this responsibility, but until I am 100% sure that she can fully assume the load, I will be there, because it’s my job and because I love her.

My Wake-up Call

Since developing my food allergies at thirteen I have had to use an auto-injector several times, but there is one reaction that sticks out in my memory the most. I was in grade eleven at the time and was going out for lunch with friends during a typical school day. Sometimes with food allergies, you don’t want to be different than your peers and want to feel like you can do everything that they can.

chinese foodMy friends wanted to go out for Chinese food and I completely went ahead with the plans without even thinking about possible allergens or the precautions I needed to take. It was completely irresponsible and one of my biggest mistakes. For the most part, I was responsible with my food allergies, but I never realized how serious they actually were. I devoured my delicious Chinese food with my girlfriends not even knowing what was about to happen. By the time we arrived back at the school I began to feel the familiar feelings of anaphylaxis that I knew too well. Before I knew it my teacher was administering my auto-injector, followed by a second dose as symptoms worsened. As the ambulance raced down the highway they gave me a third dose and I knew things were bad.

As I lay on the stretcher regret and guilt came over me. I had put my life at risk all for one meal with friends because I didn’t want to be different and worry about my allergies. Thankfully, once I arrived at the emergency room my symptoms slowly subsided. It was really a close call where I learned many valuable lessons.

I really don’t mean to scare people with this story, but the fact is, it scared me and want others to know that situations like this are preventable. Anaphylaxis is very serious, but with a little bit of effort and initiative you can do everything that your peers can, safely and effectively. This reaction was my wake up call. Since then I have checked labels, informed restaurant staff, planned ahead, and been responsible for my health and safety. Less than a month after this reaction, I became involved with Anaphylaxis Canada’s Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) and have learned a lot about allergies and myself since then. Being able to share my experiences and help others has been an amazing experience. To conclude, use this story as a wakeup call, don’t wait for a life-threatening situation to occur to realize the severity. Stand up, be responsible and be safe!

WhyRiskIt? App Now Available on iPhones/iPads

App-Web-Banner-2014

It’s official! Our WhyRiskit? Food Allergy App for Teens is now available to download on three major smartphone and tablet systems:

iPhonehttps://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/whyriskit-teen-allergy-info/id754305884?mt=8

Androidhttps://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.anaphylaxiscanada.whyriskit2

Blackberryhttp://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/36698887

You can read the official press release on Anaphylaxis Canada’s website.

It features the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, treatment and emergency procedures. It also offers support by integrating the “Allergy Free Press” blog stream too!

Check out the screenshots below and download today by searching “whyriskit” in the app store.

WhyRiskIt-App-MainMenu

WhyRiskIt-App-Symptoms

WhyRiskIt-App-Treatment

2012 – Why Risk It? Blog in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

We are amazed and delighted that our blog received 6,400 views in 2012! Thank you to everyone who took the time to read the Why Risk it? Teen Allergy Blog. We hope you found the content helpful and enjoyable as we shared our experiences living with food allergies together. Anaphylaxis Canada would also like to thank and acknowledge our Youth Advisory Panel for their continued excellence in blog content. The youthful perspective provided on this blog is invaluable to the greater allergy community. Keep up the great work in 2013!

Click here to see the complete report.