Body Boosters


People can be allergic to many different things, including animals (especially cats, horses and dogs), insect stings, plants (a particular plant, the pollen or grasses), dust, weather changes, food including (eggs, dairy and nuts), and chemicals (food colourings, soaps, detergents and perfumes).

Some allergies cause varying degrees of discomfort, with symptoms including tightness of breathing, sneezing, rashes and swellings of the affected area. However, some allergies are fatal – causing sufferers to experience ‘anaphylaxis’ or ‘anaphylactic shock’ when they encounter the particular object.

While bee stings, in particular, have been quite common and known causes of anaphylaxis for many years, in recent years there has been another cause of growing concern: food allergies. The number of children in Australia and other countries who are appearing with food allergies is increasing so that there is an average of one child with an allergy in each school classroom, and researchers don’t know why.

Whatever the reason, however, the outcome is the same: growing numbers of children are allergic to foods such as peanuts and shellfish, which means that they, and the people with whom they are in regular contact, must be careful not to bring them into contact with nuts.

Schools and other groups and now making sure teachers are trained to respond quickly if an allergic child seems to be having an anaphylactic attack. But if you, a friend or a teammate has an allergy attack, it’s important to know what to do.

What should I do?

The key is to act quickly – not only to get the best results from the appropriate medication (treatment involves an injection of adrenaline, usually given with an adrenaline auto-injector device, commonly called an ‘EpiPen’,) but also in case a reaction affects speech and breathing. Symptoms of anaphylaxis may include facial swelling, swollen tongue, swollen throat, reddened skin, hives, vomiting, strained or noisy breathing, inability to talk or hoarseness, wheezing or coughing, drop in blood pressure or unconsciousness.

If you are allergic, you should sort out an action plan in conjunction with your General Practitioner, your parents and your school. Also make sure your friends and teachers know about your allergy and what to do if you have a reaction. Part of that plan will be to make sure you carry an EpiPen at all times.

It’s almost too obvious to point out, but it is also important to do all you can to prevent an attack – for instance, by avoiding the offending food, carefully reading all labels, and asking about the ingredients in food cooked outside your home. The increase in people with allergies means that most food-industry professionals are conscious of the dangers, and shouldn’t treat your questions with disrespect.

If you are a friend of someone with an allergy, ask how you can help – perhaps by knowing where the EpiPen is kept, and having a contact number for your friend’s parents in your mobile.

Most importantly, make sure everyone in your group knows that if a reaction occurs, it’s not a joke, and that help is required urgently.

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