For advice on severe allergies, visit the Anaphylaxis Campaign website or drop us a line / 01252 542029 /@ACOutthere/@Anaphylaxiscoms

Friday, 10 February 2017

Taylor  talks to us about the challenges Valentine’s Day can bring if you have multiple severe allergies.

2017 Year of the Adult

“My name is Taylor, I'm 23 years old, live in Greenwich, London. I have chronic spontaneous urticaria angioedema anaphylaxis.

I've been with my boyfriend over four years now and suffer with severe allergies to lots of things.   I'm allergic to plants, trees and grass.  Especially flowers! I'm allergic to nuts and chocolate and many other food allergens.  My boyfriend and I have to adapt and work round my allergies. I'm also allergic to alcohol, so I am allergic to most things to do with Valentine's Day.

My boyfriend has put me into anaphylaxis  a number of times from kissing me after he had ate something earlier that day that I'm allergic to. 

Note from the Anaphylaxis Campaign, please read our top tips for staying safe whilst kissing :-).

However we still have lots of fun, I'll prepare all my own food beforehand if we're going away for a day trip or for a night away. We've gone to the zoo a lot or to farms as I love animals and we've gone skiing. If we have gone to hotel, my boyfriend will eat what I can physically be around and then he will brush his teeth and disinfect himself not to cause any cross contamination. We'll go for bike rides or swimming and we love the fair or anything historic. We go for a lot of nights away in hotels across the UK, (I'll prepare and pack my own food). I couldn't really imagine anything different as we have to be so careful and plan ahead it's become the norm.

We love each other's company and live a very happy, loving and fun love life. It's just a bit more tailored and carefully planned than your average relationship.”

If you would like to share your story of living with severe allergies as a young adult please drop an email to

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Meghan Gayler

Fifteen year old Meghan Gayler only discovered her allergy to peanuts last year after going into anaphylactic shock from eating a Chinese with friends. Here, she describes how it felt.

Most people find out they have an allergy in the first couple of years of their life, however I discovered mine last summer at the age of 15.

It began last summer during our end of Mock exam celebrations with friends. We had decided to order a Chinese to enjoy all together but it certainly wasn't enjoyable after a couple of minutes into the food. I decided to try Satay sauce as I had never tried it before and wanted to see if I’d like it.

I put a piece of Chicken covered in Satay sauce onto my plate and licked my finger as I got sauce on my finger. This was the first sign. My lips were tingling like mad and my throat and mouth were filled with an itching sensation that even water couldn't take away. I decided to carry on eating the food, but within an hour, full anaphylaxis had taken its toll. I was experiencing wheezing, hives, watery eyes, difficulty breathing and felt very anxious, something I had never experienced before. Soon after this, the breathing got worse and an ambulance was called. Nothing had ever happened like this before hence I had no EpiPen on hand. After 2 shots of adrenaline and a nebuliser helping with the breathing, the reaction finally calmed down.

After going through the awful experience of anaphylactic shock last year I have now discovered through allergy testing that I suffer from a severe allergy to peanuts that I had unbelievably coped with for 15 years. I now understand how serious allergies need to be taken as I’d hate for more people to go through the horrible experience of anaphylaxis. It has changed the life I live as going out to eat can feel as if the waiters think I’m being awkward but I’m certain it wouldn't be a pretty sight if they misunderstood. Even if I can't enjoy some of my favourite snacks anymore, better safe than sorry!

Jennie Marsden

Jennie Marsden describes her first allergic reaction and the difficulties she has faced as an allergy sufferer.

Lashings of smooth peanut butter upon buttered white bread used to be my favourite teatime treat, one that I regularly enjoyed until out of the blue, aged sixteen, I developed an allergy to all nuts and sesame seeds. My allergy was triggered by eating four cashew nuts and provoked swelling, hives, a drop in blood pressure and debilitating lethargy.

Twelve years later, my allergy has impacted many aspects of my life; learning to live on my own at University, eating out with friends and travelling abroad all proved tricky but not impossible; I have learnt not to risk Indian, Chinese and Thai restaurants, to check everything that I ingest or put on my skin. Checking ingredient lists, googling Latin translations and gently giving back nut filled gifts from my students. Nothing goes unchecked.

People presume that issues will only arise while ingesting something but shampoos, body creams and hair sprays often use nourishing but toxic nutty ingredients. Argan (Argania spinosa) has become the recent miracle oil and is now used in many mascara brands. I am still to find a lipstick that does not contain shea butter.

Visiting a foreign bathroom is now stressful and means sniffing the toilet roll to try and detect whether it has shea oil on it and then reading the ingredients of the soap bottle to check whether it’s safe. I recently bought a pair of nude tights to find that they had been infused with shea butter and have nearly drunk a can of cola with peanut oil in it. There is also a hazard in my job as a music teacher after I was informed by a piano tuner that he often uses walnut oil to condition the piano keys.

Social niceties pose problems too; I dread the kiss on the cheek greeting and then having to go through it all again when saying goodbye; kisses from family members who know about my allergy but forget that they have had a pesto sandwich for lunch then means an hour of worry when my cheek erupts in a nasty rash. I’m very lucky that my family are so understanding but it is exhausting having to remind people.

The hardest thing to come to terms with is the sense of ignorance that others have around you; a member of staff and an old ‘friend’ regularly roll her eyes at me if my allergy is mentioned; it really upsets me as I would like nothing better than to live allergy-free and not have to carry adrenaline; reactions like that make me feel embarrassed and anxious about my condition; careless and mocking attitudes will make taking risks more likely and it takes a lot of courage to stand up for yourself and appear ‘different’.

Unfortunately, I have been disappointed with the support available to me as an adult; reacting at 16 meant that I was not a priority and as a result of little support and a lack of reliable information, I suffered terribly with panic attacks and refused to eat out for many years. When enquiring about shea nuts, my GP told me to avoid them and yet other national bodies online have said that shea shouldn’t provoke a reaction; I had a negative blood test against coconut but was told by my GP that it wasn’t a reliable test so I should avoid it anyway and he couldn’t refer me to an allergy clinic ‘because they didn’t do that anymore.’

Twelve years on, I have learnt that only I can make life easier for myself; I took an aromatherapy course to learn more about cosmetic ingredients and now use essential oils to create my own toiletries and cosmetics. The fact that I can’t eat a lot of chocolate keeps me slim and my sugar levels down and because of my allergy; I am described as ‘special’ when I eat out. What more could a girl possibly want.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Amy Holland: Travelling with severe allergies

I am 23 years old and have had a severe allergy to peanuts and sesame all my life so have never known any different. I have always wanted to travel around Europe but always thought that going to new countries (without my mum!) would be too challenging. Although I have abroad many times before, I usually stick to resorts I know and ones where everyone can speak English! This year, I decided that I wanted to explore more cities in Europe and that by planning ahead maybe it wouldn't be as difficult as I had thought. I wanted to share my experiences of travelling around Europe as it might just give someone the confidence to travel to these places or there might be a little bit of it that would be useful in the future.

I travelled to Amsterdam, Prague, Barcelona and Lisbon, staying in mainly hotels and flying between each place. I was pleased with the airlines, where most made announcements and all refused to sell nuts on the flight. I always wipe down the areas around me on planes in case someone has eaten peanuts on the flight before. I look like a bit of a clean freak but the the tray tables never look very clean anyway!

Obviously I'm not a very adventurous eater but I don't really mind what I'm eating as long as I know it's safe and I've been fed! I felt quite nervous about eating while being away, especially in Prague, so I took loads of cereal bars and small boxes of cereals in the suitcase. It was definitely worth it even if I had to sacrifice a pair of shoes!! In two of our hotels, we had breakfast included. My initial plan was to use the allergy cards I'd brought with me but instead I smuggled a small box of cereal in to the breakfast room and had that! I knew it was safe and felt much better having that and some fruit rather than risking their food.

I can't give you a big list of restaurants as I stuck to 3 different places over the two weeks! I had emailed loads of restaurants before I went on my trip to ask whether they could cater for my allergy. Most didn't reply, some just sent the allergen menu to me and a few sent me detailed information of how they could change dishes to accommodate me. Hard Rock Cafe gave the best information and I ate there loads. I have eaten there before, and in each place they advised me on a burger without the bun which was really tasty. They were excellent with hand over notes when they changed shifts as I was also introduced to the next member of staff and the previous staff member explained the severity of my allergies to them. I had a Hard Rock Cafe in Amsterdam and Prague and honestly couldn't fault it and felt safe throughout the meal. I had also researched a place called CAU in Amsterdam who were also very good with allergies however I couldn't have much except a very fancy steak at lunchtime!

The other place I ate out at was McDonald's. I did ultimately become very bored of chicken nuggets but I wasn't really bothered as long as I ate! Obviously McDonald's were fab and although it's not very exciting, I'd much rather be safe. It was really reassuring to know there were so many McDonald's around as I knew I was safe there and that I wasn't going to die of hunger during the holiday!

Everyone I spoke to in restaurants had excellent English, I found in Barcelona there was the greatest language barrier so I stuck mainly to McDonald's while I was there. I also bought crisps and snacks for the day from supermarkets (there was a Tesco and M&S in Prague and an M&S in Amsterdam) and made sure to thoroughly check the ingredients! It was nice in M&S as although it was pricey, the ingredients were in English!

I know I said I'd write a quick message and it's actually been very long but I wanted to share my experiences. I would have loved to have this information before I went and hopefully some of it will be useful to you all.

I really enjoyed my experience there and never felt compromised by my allergies while I was away. Although my diet wasn't very exciting, all that I was bothered about was being safe and at least I could treat myself to the occasional cocktail!