... Continued from Part 1
• Teach your teenager how to anticipate and troubleshoot situations. Think ahead and never let their guard down. Expect surprises!
• Teach your teenager - and yourself - to accept the fact that some people
just don't get the allergy scene and what it means to those who have the allergy.
Some people can't get it. Some people just won't get it. Some people
may get it but just won't accept it. Help your teenager to learn to spot
these people and avoid them.
When you go to open days at the universities your teenager is interested in, keep the following in mind.
• Meet the medical and emergency services and discuss how they will react if an emergency should occur. Make sure that your teenager discusses all possible scenarios and solutions with the relevant personnel.
For example, when I visited my daughter’s college they wanted her to call them first in an emergency, not 999. I objected but the director explained that if 999 were called from a mobile or university phone the ambulance would not know where to go and valuable minutes would be wasted.
• Investigate the food services and the other options. Is the food made on site or brought in? Are the staff willing to work with allergic students?
At my daughter's university food was self-service and was served
from different ‘islands'.
Being allergic to nuts she always avoided the ethnic, salad and dessert
islands but still had several other ‘safe' food islands to choose
from. She was also invited to go into the kitchen and to ask questions
or read ingredients whenever she wanted.
• Investigate the rooms.
Do they allow refrigerators in the rooms? Are there communal kitchens
on each floor? These can be used by students to cook their own food
although care must be taken over contamination.
(UK students and parents
will be encouraged to know that many UK universities seem to be relatively
aware of food allergies. Over 20% of 300 odd colleges that we mailed
last month with details of the Allergy Catering Manual (www.allergycateringmanual.com)
have already ordered one or more copies. Ed)
Once you have decided on a university
• Make sure that you and your son or daughter have the names and phone
numbers of hospitals in the area in case of emergency. They should keep a list
pinned up in an obvious place in their rooms as well as in their purse or wallet.
• Provide the relevant authority in their particular hall of residence with a picture of your son or daughter, with a description of their allergy or possible symptoms and instructions of what to do in an emergency.
• If your son or daughter is sharing a room make sure that their room-mate knows and understands about their allergy and what to do in an emergency.
• Do your very best to persuade your son or daughter to tell their friends about their allergy. My daughter says that her friends are her most important allies - her body guards and her observers who will look out for her when her own guard slips - or if she has an unexpected reaction.
• Try to persuade your son or daughter to attend a few sessions with a
support group such as the Anaphylaxis Campaign (www.anaphylaxis.org.uk / www.foodallergy.org)
which runs workshops specifically for teenagers.
The Anaphylaxis Campaign runs regular workshops for teenagers, and for parents. They also have a great deal of support material on their site. Check out: www.anaphylaxis.org.uk tel 01252 542029
FAAN - although this is an American site there is a lot of useful information on it - www.foodallergy.org
MedicAlert - for bracelets, necklaces etc with full details of the
wearer's allergy, emergency numbers etc. www.medicalert.org.uk
www.allergyaction.org Excellent site run by Hazel Gowland, Food Advisor to the Anaphylaxis Campaign. Comprehensive advice on travel and eating out with a serious food allergy.
www.coeliac.co.uk Good support group for coeliacs.
www.lasg.org.uk Support group for anyone with a latex allergy.
Two sites offering stick/sew on labels useful for allergen-free
boxes in kitchens etc www.labelitorloseit.com / www.nameitlabels.co.uk
www.selectwisely.com A great site for travelling allergics - lots of helpful advice plus allergy cards.
First published in 2005
If you found this article interesting, you will find many more articles on anaphylaxis here, and reports of research into anaphylaxis here.
You can also find articles on peanut and tree-nut allergy here, cow's milk allergies here, egg allergy here, histamine intolerance hereand articles on a wide range of other allergic and intolerance reactions to a wide range of other foods here.
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