Moving on to college (Part 2)

... Continued from Part 1

Trouble Shooting

• 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.

College Preparation

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 ( 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 ( / 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: tel 01252 542029

FAAN - although this is an American site there is a lot of useful information on it -

MedicAlert - for bracelets, necklaces etc with full details of the wearer's allergy, emergency numbers etc. Excellent site run by Hazel Gowland, Food Advisor to the Anaphylaxis Campaign. Comprehensive advice on travel and eating out with a serious food allergy. Good support group for coeliacs. Support group for anyone with a latex allergy.

Two sites offering stick/sew on labels useful for allergen-free boxes in kitchens etc / 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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