For advice on severe allergies, visit the Anaphylaxis Campaign website www.anaphylaxis.org.uk/living-with-anaphylaxis/young-people or drop us a line info@anaphylaxis.org.uk / 01252 542029 /@ACOutthere/@Anaphylaxiscoms

Monday, 7 December 2015

#TakeTheKit

In July, we launched the #TakeTheKit campaign, to alert severely allergic young people to the dangers of not carrying their Adrenaline Auto-Injectors (AAI). Joining forces with production company Bare Films, we produced a hard-hitting film to highlight the dangers of not carrying your AAI.

 In a recent Youth Survey carried out by the Anaphylaxis Campaign, an alarming 44% of 15-25 year olds admitted to not always carrying their AAI. The social stigmatisation of carrying an AAI and the extreme pressures on teenagers to ‘fit-in’ and seem ‘normal’ can lead to not carrying their medication with them at all times, a risky and potentially life-threatening action.

Please watch the film below and remember to always carry your medication.




Our Key Messages & Advice

  • Not carrying AAIs can lead to tragedy 
  • Talk to your friends about your allergy and your medication so they understand and know the importance of your AAI  
  • Show your friends how to use the AAI if they can see you are having a reaction 
  • Don’t be ashamed of your allergy or your AAI. Your life is more important.
  • Friday, 4 December 2015

    Oli Weatherall: Travelling with allergies

    I am a typical 18 year-old student. Having finished A-levels and with a place confirmed for University in September, I took a gap year to work and earn enough money to do some travelling. The crucial difference is that I have a severe, life threatening allergy to peanuts.

    Travelling to Asia is not an easy option for me food-wise and the language barriers in Europe can make things more stressful so the option to go to Australia and New Zealand was manageable and exciting. My planning included organising extra Adrenaline Auto-Injectors (AAIs), letters from the doctor and making sure I had bags to carry my medical stuff with me 24/7 - never easy for a guy as I’m not a huge fan of man-bags!  There is still a gap in the market for this I think – one day I hope to design something suitable.

    The initial obstacle was the very long flight to Sydney.  If you have a severe allergy you know that flying, especially long distances, is a daunting experience.  I flew with Qantas being the only airline that has banned serving peanuts on board (and in their lounges).   However this was a more expensive flight and I had to fly separately from my mates who flew with Emirates - cheaper and nut-serving!

    The prospect of anaphylaxis whilst over some anonymous ocean is one of the most terrifying prospects I faced during my travels. I always take my own food on flights as airlines cannot guarantee that the prepared meals are 100% peanut free. I also took antiseptic wet wipes to clean surfaces in case someone before me had been eating peanuts.

    Being 6ft 2”, quite sporty and constantly hungry means that I always think ahead and plan meals – being prepared is rather tedious but part of my life but it does get easier.  I took a huge bag of the healthiest, most substantial food I could find for the long plane journey, but still arrived feeling hungry!

    We first drove from Sydney to Cairns – 5 large guys in a camper-van for a month was rather snug! We had a gas-stove (although it didn’t work) and I relied on stopovers at supermarkets and fast food chains en route to buy supplies that I could eat.  In supermarkets more products than in England were listed with ‘may contain traces of peanuts’ including the majority of ready-meals, cereals and some cooking oils so I had to be constantly vigilant. 

    A few day and overnight trips were away from medical care and the food safety of supermarkets. On these trips I made sure to contact the organisers and explain my issue, as if they have advance warning they generally can help and make provisions. These trips were manageable - you just need to be on the ball, plan ahead (such as purchasing supplies for the trip the day before), and be extra cautious when you are more isolated.  I can never completely relax on such trips but I really enjoyed them nonetheless, especially three great days on a boat in The Whitsundays and snorkelling off the Great Barrier Reef – something I have always wanted to do and would love to do again. 

    We then spent a month doing the Kiwi Experience in New Zealand which was great – my favourite activities included climbing the Franz Josef Glacier and black water rafting in a glow worm cave.  We stayed in pretty basic hostels while travelling around the North and South Islands.  The kitchens were difficult for someone with a severe food allergy, as cooking utensils were rarely washed properly so I rarely cooked.  Next time I go travelling I will take a small frying pan and cooking utensils to cook my own food safely – this would mean that I could eat a healthier diet and save money on food.

    When I ate out, I had to rely mainly on fast-food franchises and these can vary considerably between and within countries.  For example, in Australia I could eat in KFC (with allergen information in every branch) but in New Zealand there was almost nothing I could eat in KFC.   Obviously the factory set-up was different in the two countries.   On my return to England I am now careful to check each and every franchise and not assume anything – it is not worth the risk.

    Before flying internally with Air New Zealand I ate McDonald’s at the airport (which I checked as usual). My throat started to swell up in the airport and shortly after boarding the plane I exited.  I was assessed by the paramedics and after a few terrifying hours the swelling left and I boarded a new flight (however Air New Zealand decided my backpack shouldn’t board until a day or so later!).

    All in all I had a great trip but it was a relief to return home to a stocked fridge and the safety of my mum’s kitchen and home-cooked food!   I learnt it is possible to go travelling with a severe allergy - especially in countries where there isn’t a language barrier.  It was a lot more stressful and worrying for me than for my mates but I expected that. People are generally quite helpful in dealing with allergies, and I try not to get annoyed by those who aren’t.  I cannot stress enough to always take your medical supplies at all times and tell people about your allergy – it is one part of you and nothing more – it is still possible to get out there and have fun!



    Check out our Dr Doyle films

    Dr Matt Doyle answers all of your allergy questions!

    As the sole charity supporting people with severe allergies in the UK, the Anaphylaxis Campaign have made a series of videos to address any concerns you might have about coping with your allergy.

    Covering topics including knowing when to use your Adrenaline Auto-Injector (AAI), administering it and the effects of drinking alcohol on allergy.

    Here's a taster of what to expect. Here Dr Doyle demonstrates how to use your AAI.

    Click here to watch more.

    Thursday, 3 September 2015

    Teen Overcomes Allergy to Exercise to Become Award-Winning Gymnast

    In May 2014 19-year-old gymnast, Natasha Coates, was diagnosed with a rare allergy to exercise but has fought against her condition to win five gold medals and two trophies, claiming the title of British Disability National Gymnastics Champion.

    The condition, known as Spontaneous Urticaria and Spontaneous Angioedema leading to Idiopathic Anaphylaxis can be triggered by things such as exertion, sweat and heat. The reaction targets the body’s Mast Cells and causes blood vessels to leak and the body to release histamine, creating swelling, low blood pressure and difficulty in breathing which can prove fatal.

    Tasha said: “In April [2014] I suffered an anaphylactic reaction, which lead to a respiratory arrest.”
    “After that I thought my time as a gymnast was over forever.”

    Tasha’s reactions have led to over 30 hospital admissions within 12 months and also caused her to lose her hair.

    “It was a really difficult time when my hair started falling out, I had 8 separate anaphylactic reactions in 2 weeks and before you knew it I was bald’

    However, Tasha was determined not to give up on the sport she loved and had already dedicated ten years to, making the decision to work tirelessly to be able to compete in gymnastics again.

    “I don’t believe a diagnosis defines you – your strength and commitment does”, she said. 

    Tasha decided to enter into disability gymnastics, allowing her to make adaptations so her health could remain a priority, refusing to let her condition stop her from competing.

    “I tried staying in bed for a bit [after diagnosis] but I thought this isn’t working and got up and got on with my life.”

    “I had 8 months off before getting back into the gym. It was strange going back at first, nothing felt right and things that used to seem simple to achieve suddenly became extremely difficult. When I exercise I now lose the feeling in my hands and legs, so I have had to adapt the way I perform as I can’t feel where my I place my hands and feet. This makes beam the most challenging for me as I don’t know exactly where my feet are when I land and just have to hope I have lined the skill up properly”

    As well as having won numerous awards, Tasha also runs a blog, Allergic to Life, to help raise awareness for her condition and disability gymnastics.

    “My life is completely different since diagnosis, and it can be really scary and difficult at times but I have a whole new appreciation for life. I train at The Wire Gymnastics club in Warrington alongside some extremely talented mainstream gymnasts and everyone at in the gym is really understanding. My coach Ema is fantastic in helping me to achieve my goals whilst ensuring my health stays the main priority. I train very differently to what I used to but I am still able to progress and enjoy the sport.”


    My motto is “Be brave. Stay focused and work hard, let your talent speak for itself’ and certainly, Tasha is doing just that.

    Tuesday, 11 August 2015

    TRACE Study (also known as allergy advice I'm sorta but not really qualified to give)

    I have a nut allergy. In fact, I have enough allergies to shake a big stick at, and quite a few more. I was 18 months old when I went into anaphylactic shock due to a peanut butter sandwich I stole off the boy I was being babysat with (that gives you good insight into my dating history, doesn't it?). Since then I've also been diagnosed with oral allergy syndrome (OAS)(mouth/ hives problems to a lot of fruit and veg), I'm allergic to soya, anaphylactic to all nuts and broad beans, lactose intolerant (albeit mildly, thank god) and I seem to constantly be reacting to something new. If it's fruity, vegetabley, legumey- chances are I will be exceptionally cautious when eating it (if it's new to me), if I eat it at all.

    HOWEVER.

    I have not had an anaphylactic reaction (outside of a controlled clinical trial) since the very first one when I was 18 months, save for one example I will cover later. I am awesome at handling my allergy, mostly because constant visits to the allergy clinic, horrible initial symptoms and my mother have terrified me into avoiding all possible reactions. I have been endlessly supported by the Anaphylaxis Campaign, have terrified my friends into looking out for me, and am possibly horribly over cautious. Oh well, it's keeping me alive.

    Though the Anaphylaxis Campaign, I saw an advert for adults with peanut allergies to participate in a clinical trial. This trial has lots of aims- they're trying to work out a minimum dose of peanut needed to make a severely allergic person react to inform food labelling; they're looking at the effects of sleep deprivation (in the place of stress) and exercise on the severity and minimum dose for reactions, and they're looking at blood biochemistry throughout reactions, as well as skin blood flow and heart activity. This is the TRACE study.

    I've since had both of my baseline challenges, the active dose of which sent me into anaphylaxis. Instead of being scared like a normal human being, I was thrilled- I finally got to experience the worst of my allergy symptoms first hand, to make sure I knew what I was up against. What surprised me was how quickly I went from symptoms that could easily be confused with, and thus accounted to my OAS, to feeling like someone had decided to crush my ribcage, shut my throat and tired me out to the point where breathing felt like running 6 marathons at once. In a few seconds, I went from talking normally, to my blood pressure dropping, all of my accessory muscles being needed to breathe, and gasping for air.

    I was told at the same time, my heart rate plummeted, my blood became cold (they were taking it out of me at the time) and I went completely and utterly white. Luckily the doctor in charge of the trial was two steps ahead of me and stuck adrenaline in my thigh (that's a lot more painful than they tell you in clinic, but also the relief is almost instantaneous. I'd marry it if I could.). After the adrenaline, my hands and feet went blue, numb and tingly as all my blood vessels constricted; I started shaking, violently and uncontrollably to the point where I had to be held down onto the bed, but it was like coming up for air. My lungs suddenly decided they were lungs again. My heart decided it wanted to leap out of my chest, but at that point I'd have taken any side effects whatsoever just to be able to breathe and feel like I wasn't so tired that I couldn't even take a shallow breath for the effort.

    So the message from that is- be so so aware of every single allergic symptom, because unless you know the allergen and know your allergy inside out, it can go badly very, very quickly. Also, if you have adrenaline with you at all times, it is the most brilliant thing ever. After my symptoms had subsided, I felt like I could run the world (admittedly still with very, very shaky legs.)

    I pride myself on being good with my allergy. I ask in all the restaurants I go to, I will refuse to eat something if I'm not sure, I carry at least two epi-pens everywhere. (And I mean everywhere. Even in an exam hall, because who knows what's been on those tables.) My allergy is very, very severe- I've been told I will (and have) reacted to a dose equivalent to 1/16 of a peanut, or 1/32 of a piece of bread with peanut butter on. But the results from this shocked me- because I thought I was fine, up until my body flicked that switch into not being able to breathe.

    My first and only anaphylactic reaction was when I was without my mum was when I was on French Exchange. I had broad beans in a lunch from the canteen, and immediately my mouth felt horrible, my ears were itchy, and I started panicking. I took an anti-histamine, but being 13 and stupid, I thought the fact I was having breathing difficulties would be resolved by my inhaler. It was, and a lot of anti-histamines- but I should have taken my epi-pen. Please, never ever be scared to take an epi-pen- even if you're not that worried, as soon as your breathing is involved, get that adrenaline in your leg.

    I have had friends who have had epi-pens for mild reactions because they were scared- and it's true, better safe than sorry. I have a friend who sat in a hospital car park for 3 hours because she was scared her reaction would get worse. Nothing is too early when your life is on the line.

    Katie's top tips for young adults who cannot deal with peanuts/ other stuff

    A lot of this is going to be old advice with a Katie twist. Bear with me.

    - Carry your adrenaline everywhere. They're awkward to fit into bags for clubbing, but you can find them. I find accessorize often does clutches that allow me to fit two pens, anti-histamines, an inhaler and all my usual stuff. I CANNOT EMPHASISE THIS ENOUGH. CARRY YOUR ADRENALINE. You can also buy super fun cases on eBay.

    - Check that epi-pen is in date, set reminders in every electronic device you have for the expiry, and never get caught with an out of date one. In the same vein, I keep out of date ones (so long as they're not cloudy, check the viewing window) for up to 6 months just in case my in date ones aren't enough.

    - Tell your friends. They'll find it great fun practicing with a trainer pen (you can get them for free from the epipen website!), you'll feel more relaxed knowing they know how to look after you, and it's a great chance to normalise an allergy that can seem terrifying. Also, you'll all have great fun jabbing each other.

    - If you're going out clubbing and want to pull, just double check the other person hasn't been eating something you're allergic to. It's as awkward as hell, but hey if they like you enough to want to keep you alive when they kiss you, that's the kinda person who you don't mind making out with. Just sayin'. People are way cooler about allergies than you think they are. Also, people who don't respect the allergy pull the best faces, which are great for telling your friends about later.

    - Find stuff you know you can have, and keep it with you. I have a dairy milk bar in my backpack for when my friends are having something cool that I can't have. I always feel guilty when my friends are eating healthy fruit salads and I'm cringing at the potential mouth pain, but I'm good with bananas so I'll have one of them, or some cucumber. For a good three years I carried a peeler in my bag so that I could have apples at break times with my friends- they thought it was hilarious, and I enjoyed many a peel-less apple.

    - Find allergy buds to commiserate with. My flatmate is also allergic to nuts; one of my best friends is allergic to dairy. Nothing feels better than moaning about all the good looking food you've missed with people who are also missing it. They tend to also have allergen free recipes up their sleeve, which is amazing.

    - Check menus before you go out to eat, or politely ask if you can eat somewhere you know you feel safe in. For me, I know that Wagamamas has always been brilliant with my allergy (despite having peanuts on the menu elsewhere). Nandos, Brewers Fayre, Pizza Express- all good in my books, but make your own safe books! Eating out is so much fun if you take an epi-pen trained friend and speak up for yourself. You are amazing, and you deserve amazing allergen free food. The anaphylaxis campaign website also has links to get translation cards for eating out abroad, when talking about allergies can be a lot more difficult.

    - CHECK EVERYTHING. Unfortunately, recipes in long standing products (Cadbury mini rolls, Iceland pizzas just to name two) can change very suddenly and without warning. It's a pain in the ass to keep checking, but the more you do it the quicker you get, and avoiding the hospital and/or death IS good for you. I was almost caught out by peanut warnings on an Iceland Pepperoni pizza (what are you even doing, Iceland) until my sister spotted it.

    - Learn a load of peanut related jokes to relax people around you. I am well used to the 'Oh, you're allergic to nuts? Guess you'll never have a boyfriend then!' 'Oh, you're checking the packet? But you don't need to lose weight, or count calories!' HEY GUESS WHAT, ALLERGIES MAKE US COOL. If you're still living and kicking ass with food allergies, you have my ultimate respect because this stuff is difficult.

    - Practice being outspoken with wait staff. Trust me, they'd much rather you ask about your allergies and make your requirements clear than have you send food back because it has nuts on (been there, done that), be unable to eat and thus make them any profit (hello, every Chinese place ever), or go into anaphylactic shock at the table (that's just a lot of paperwork and agro nobody can be bothered to deal with.) Wait staff are normally fantastic, but if you're in doubt, ask to speak to the chef (they don't get to speak to customers much, they'll love it. It's a culinary challenge for them to beat.). If you're still in doubt, DON'T EAT THERE. There is plenty of great food to be had without dying for the chance.

    - Try and get to know your symptoms. If you're under an allergy clinic (thank you, Southampton General you gorgeous humans), ask if you can do a food challenge with foods you know you're allergic to, so you know what to expect. I thought I would have hit nausea and vomiting before anaphylaxis, and boy was I wrong. I'd still have been stuffing myself with pointless anti-histamines until death if I hadn't realised my chest was closed.

    1. Where do your symptoms start? Do you get hives? A rash? Itchy mouth? Itchy ears? Snotty nose? (Glamorous, I know.) My hives always turn up in the same place, and they're an excellent indicator something is about to happen.

    2. How long do they last? I can have an itchy mouth for half an hour and then suddenly get much much worse. On the other hand, I can also have hives and be absolutely fine. Know which is which.

    3. Which symptoms do you get and do you know which ones mean you need an epi-pen? (BONUS ROUND- if it's affecting your airway or consciousness, that's epi-pen time.)

    4. Do you know how many epi-pens you need? I need two at the very least, despite having a strong reaction to adrenaline.

    IF YOU HAVE ANY ADRENALINE WHATSOEVER, YOU NEED TO GO TO HOSPITAL. I had adrenaline for my allergic reaction in hospital, thought I was fine two hours later, and passed out on the way back from the toilet. Who knows what it's going to do. At the very least, they can give you more cool drugs or tell you how brave you are for sticking a needle in your own thigh. Good job.

    Just remember that allergies are something people are totally able to live with, even if they are scary and a pain in the ass. 

    There's a whole community of us sharing recipes without allergens in, talking about which restaurants have been amazing with allergies, warning each other about changes in ingredients. You do not have to miss out on anything.

     For parents of allergic kids:

    It is as scary as hell having allergies or having an allergic child, but it is also totally manageable. I can happily say I have never missed out on anything- I went on all the school trips, I went abroad for swim camps twice, I go on holidays without my parents and I moved to London for university, all without a blip. I went on Brownie and Guide camps, Netball camps, plain normal camping.

    It takes a lot of effort, yes. There is disappointment when everyone else is getting cake in their party bag and you get nothing. It's embarrassing having your mum talk to every single parent in the playground to check you can visit their house for tea, it's awkward having to take substitute food on planes and school trips, it makes you feel like the odd one out when teachers are checking on you. BUT.

    It also makes you feel amazing for having your parents trust in you, for knowing they know you can deal with it. I was the coolest kid in school with my bumbag for my epi-pens on school trips. Days off school to go to the allergy clinic are super cool. Being allergic to lots of foods makes you a really creative cook. I am really good at recognising what ingredients a food has in it. I am so cautious that I can pick up my reactions to the first tingle, having been trained from an early age.

    Teachers, restaurant staff- anyone you feel you have to trust with your child's allergy, are actually getting a lot better in dealing with them. Yes, you have to be super cautious- but talking about it helps so much. It normalises it. Practice with old epi-pens on apples or teddy bears for a bit of educational fun (yes, I am that boring.)

    My allergies have opened up doorways I never would have considered otherwise. I am a medical student primarily because I was always so fascinated about what was going on with other people when I was in hospital. I am doing a BSc in Immunology next year, and I was first interested in that to find out what was happening in my own body. I got an A* in an Extended Project all about the social side of peanut allergies, which a lecturer has since decided to try and get it published.

    There are plus sides to being stuck with a body that doesn't know what it likes and what it doesn't. You're gonna be okay.

    Please if you want to talk allergies with me, or have any questions or anything, visit my blog here and leave a comment or I can be found on twitter @katiehodgie, 


    Thursday, 4 June 2015

    Graphic Design Student brings allergy into the modern consciousness with stunning allergy magazine

    Daniel Kelly, a Graphic Design student from the University of Huddersfield, has created an innovative booklet and magazine that aims to raise awareness around anaphylaxis and bring it into the modern consciousness.

    Daniel said, “I hope that people understand what living with an allergy really entails and more importantly how to act in a life-threatening situation. The magazine and booklet pushes the boundaries and takes the adrenaline auto-injector out of context in a visually exciting way that’s not been seen more before.  I hope this will engage people and raise awareness around anaphylaxis.”

    Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be life threatening. Although fatalities have remained consistent, at around 20 per year, this is still a tragic number dying from a preventable cause. Those most at risk from a fatal reaction are aged between 16-25 years old.

    Anaphylaxis Campaign CEO, Lynne Regent said, “We really support the work Daniel is doing in raising awareness of allergy among young people. They are a particularly at risk group so this is a really important issue Daniel is addressing.”
     
    Daniel started this project as a result of his university degree, however the project also took on a very personal agenda for him too.

    “I have lived with a severe nut allergy for over 17 years now, yet I still find that people do not understand how severe having a food allergy is. When I speak to friends about my allergy they are always curious and interested. This sparked the beginning of my project, which would later have real personal meaning.”

    In a recent survey carried out by the Anaphylaxis Campaign it was found that 44% of the 520+ respondents ages 15-25, didn’t always carry their Adrenaline Auto Injectors (or AAIs).

    The social stigmatisation of carrying an AAI and the extreme pressures on teenagers to ‘fit-in’ and seem ‘normal’ can lead to not carrying their medication with them at all times, a risky and potentially life-threatening action. Daniel’s project seeks to change this.
    I found out last week that my best friend’s brother had been diagnosed with a severe nut allergy. As a result, he unfortunately felt secluded because of having to carry an [AAI] for the rest of his life. I would like to attempt to take away this stigma associated around having an allergy. My response to this is to produce something that is going to engage with my audience in a new and exciting way. Making people more aware of what it is like living with an allergy, and how you can integrate it into your everyday life.”

    But this was not just any project for Daniel, he even contacted award-winning designer, David Swann, who guided Daniel on how to approach his project and offered invaluable advice.

    Daniel also conducted a study at his university, to find out if people knew who to use an AAI.

    My findings showed that a lot of students did not know what an Epi-pen was and were unsure on how to use it. People initially thought you stabbed the Epi-Pen into the neck. This is the wrong information that is perceived. My goal is hopefully making people aware of the correct way to use the Epi-Pen.”

    Daniel came up with the idea back in September 2014, and took him a month and a half to complete. It will be presented to the public on 12th June at Huddersfield University’s 2015 Graduation Show, in Huddersfield. If you would like to attend it will be held in Huddersfield University's Creative Art Building from 7pm Friday 12th June. 

    One student said of the magazine, “The contemporary nature to Daniel Kelly’s designs allow a younger audience, such as myself, to understand the dangers associated with having an allergy, and how to reduce the risk of a reaction occurring. I feel the design response Dan has developed makes the subject of allergies more approachable and visually appealing.”

    Daniel also ensured that his magazine was as medically correct as possible and sort help from allergy experts, including the Anaphylaxis Campaign, who he’s been a member of for many years.

    “I have been with the Anaphylaxis campaign for over 17 years they have helped and supported me, proving free workshops and events. They have given me the chance to meet people my own age with food allergies. I also got the opportunity to go on a trip to Lake District, on an action packed five days where I entailed on lots of different activities, when I was thirteen. The Anaphylaxis Campaign not only support people with allergies like myself but have a real impact in giving me the tools and information to handle my nut allergy.”

    You can view Daniel’s mini booklet and magazine here:


    Mini Booklet - http://issuu.com/danielkellydesign/docs/final_3_issuu__booklet_body_text_fi


    Magazine - http://issuu.com/danielkellydesign/docs/final_2_issuu_daniel_kelly_main_boo

    Be Festival Ready with this simple Festival Allergy Guide

    With festival season just around the corner we thought we’d get you in the mood with an easy guide to managing your allergy while enjoying the music, fun and (hopefully) sun.

    Whilst there’s no reason why having a severe allergy should stop you donning your wellies and rain coat and getting stuck in to festival season it is important to remember to take care while you’re out there.

    Before you go
    Festivals often have security measures in place to make sure nothing dangerous or unusual is bought onto the site. Think of it like going on holiday, take a note from your GP explaining exactly why you need to carry your adrenaline auto-injector and what it does, just in case anyone thinks it could be something much more untoward.

    Ensure you have somewhere cool to keep your AAIs just in case you get warm weather – keeping your pen with you in your tent at night or pocket during the day may cause 
    it to overheat, which could reduce the effectiveness of the adrenaline. You can purchase special bags to keep your AAIs cool at http://www.medpac.co.uk/

    Ensure it is in date before you leave. An out-of-date pen could also be much less effective.

    When you get there
    Scan the area and keep in mind where the nearest medical tens are and be aware of them in relation to your location whenever possible.

    It may also be worth taking a trip down to your nearest medical or staff tent to your campsite and introduce yourself, explaining your condition and medication. This ensures people are aware of your allergy and know how to treat you, should anything happen.

    Medication
    Always carry two of your prescribed adrenaline auto-injectors (Emerade, EpiPen or Jext) at all times. 

    Try not to leave them in your tent, carry it around with you at all times. There are many cool carriers and cases that allow you to clip it on to belt loops, clothing or keep it safe in bags. It may sound extreme but some type of AAIs need protecting from extreme temperature. Check with your GP or the brands website to find out about yours.

    Allergy blogger, Leo, just sticks with the old favourite. “Bring a backpack - it can be a pain carrying adrenaline around with you at a festival, but I found that the best way that it could be managed was to carry a backpack, which means you can also carry your antihistamines, food, water, money and all the other essentials too.”

    Keep your friends in the know
    Make sure the people you’re going with known about your allergy and how serious it can be. This way they’ll know to be careful and can help you better should anything happen.

    Festivals are extremely busy places and getting lost and separated is a possibility. Preparing for this is all about thinking ahead. The best thing you can do is to wear a medical alert bracelet or jewellery that display your allergy and treatment (http://www.medicalert.org.uk/), you can also carry a card with you in your pocket or wallet that lets even people you don’t know understand if you need help.  

    It can also be helpful to write down emergency contacts; one at the festival with you and one at home, who can help you.   

    Eating
    Finding something to eat at a festival can be tricky if you have a food allergy but there are things you can do to help prevent an accidental reaction. You can contact the festival’s organisers beforehand and see if they can provide you with a list of food suppliers who will be there on the day, that way you can scope out if there’s something good (and safe) to eat when you’re there.

    Don’t be afraid of asking them what’s in their food – the new Food Information Regulation means they must know if any of the top 14 allergens are present in their food. If you’re ever in doubt just go find somewhere else.

    Alternatively, you can take your own food. Bear in mind if you’re camping over the weekend it should be food that won’t go nasty quickly. Instant noodles, sandwiches, personal safe snacks like crisps and fresh fruit (depending on what you’re allergic to) are all good foods to take with you.

    If there is a town nearby to the festival you can try heading away from the crowds and popping to fast food stores you know are safe or to supermarkets where the range may not be quite as restrictive for you.

    In case of emergency
    If you think you’re having a reaction follow these tips:

    Stay calm and stay with friends – do not go off on your own, stay with people that can help you
    Get a friend to look for a member of the festival staff – stewards or security would be best, but this could also be programme sellers or bar staff – as they are likely to have a walkie talkie on them to contact the medical tent or will have good knowledge of the site and how best to get medical attention.

    If you’re feeling dizzy or faint stay where you are and lie down, try to elevate your legs if possible.
    Don’t be afraid to use your adrenaline. Using it, even if not needed, is unlikely to cause any problems. As adrenaline is a natural hormone present in your body i.e. from nerves, exertion, or excitement, your body can process with little risk involved.

    Always call 999 and seek medical help after using your injector.

    General festival tips
    Pack baby wipes and antibacterial gel – these can help if you can’t find a sink or shower

    Don’t eat or drink anything if you don’t know where it came from, or what’s in it – this is a good idea no matter where you are

    Make plans for where to meet friends if you get separated and always carry your mobile phone in case of an emergency.

    Invest in a backup battery pack if your phone is infamous for having a short battery life

    Although we do not condone the taking of recreational drugs please bear in mind that drugs (and alcohol) can make you more likely to take risks and can make a reaction much more severe.