How to help a friend with allergies

Most people know someone with an allergy, but most don’t actually know what this means for them, how they can help, and what to do if an anaphylactic reaction occurs. Below are some tips to help both you and your friend with their allergy.

• Any food can cause an allergic reaction. According to the NHS, the most common food allergies in children are to milk, eggs, peanuts, treenuts, fish and shellfish. In adults, the foods that most commonly causes allergic reactions include peanuts, treenuts, fruits, fish and shellfish. Often, people do not realise that allergens can turn up in foods where you’d least expect it.

This means that ingredients must always be checked every time something is bought, as sometimes recipes are changed.

• Foods that don’t contain allergens themselves can be contaminated if someone accidentally touches it who has previously touched an allergen, or if the food was prepared in a place where an allergen has previously been. On packaging, if a food has been made in a factory where an allergen is used, it is usually stated.

• Talk to your friend. This will help them to feel more at ease, especially if you get to know the specifics of their reactions, and the foods they are allergic to. Most symptoms come on straight away – a rash, tingling in the mouth or lips, or trouble breathing, however, some can take longer to appear.

• Learn from previous experience with your friend. The more familiar you are with what could happen, the quicker you will be able identify the reaction, and therefore react quicker to take action.

• Encourage your friend to speak up when experiencing a reaction, and to always take their adrenaline auto-injector (the common brands are EpiPen, Jext and Emerade). Watch the video below.

• Ask your friend to show you how to use their adrenaline auto-injector, as this may save their life in an emergency. Instructions can be found herehere and here

• Don’t let your friend brush off symptoms, take action and get help.

• The most important thing you can do is to take your friend’s allergy seriously. In some situations, your friend may not be paying attention, and put themselves in danger, and drinking alcohol can also interfere with their ability to make sensible decisions.

If you have an allergy, please share this around with your friends, as you never know: one day, they could save your life.


Travelling with allergies


Prepare in advance

  • If you have chosen to travel by plane, consider and research the different airlines’ allergy policies. Are there allergy free meals available? Are there allergy free areas or ‘buffer zones’ aboard the flight? Contact the airline in advance as they may be better able to cater for your needs.
  • If you have booked an all-inclusive holiday, inquire in advance of your stay to find out their arrangements for food preparation.
  • If you are going for a self catered holiday, research the local area. Are there any pubs or restaurant chains in a close proximity?  If you phone up and explain your allergies they may be able to take special precautions. Alternatively, see if they have a website with menus available. By preparing in advance it may provide peace of mind and confidence wherever you choose to eat.
  • Find out where the nearest hospital is and what the phone number for an ambulance is.
  •  If you have an iPhone with the ios 8 update, fill in your medical ID which can be found on the lockscreen on the emergency call screen. You can tap in a contact number and the details of your allergies, reactions and medication. If you are travelling abroad you could write this information in the local language (as well as in English).

Pack your EpiPens

  • You must always have your adrenaline injectors close at hand.
  • Don’t put your EpiPen in your suitcase, carry it in your hand luggage.
  • When you have arrived at your destination there are various ways that you can carry your EpiPens discreetly. However, make sure you let whoever you are travelling with know where they are and how to use them if a reaction occurs. Also make them aware of the symptoms of anaphylaxis. 

18403134_10156028651886808_2928590101825595685_nCheck and double check ingredients

  • Whether you are purchasing food from a supermarket, a restaurant or elsewhere, check the ingredients.
  • If you are travelling abroad you may need to know the local language. However you do not need to be fluent, as you can find translation cards here, here and here. Write down a list of translations of what you are allergic to and how to ask anyone about it. If you are unsure about whether a food contains an ingredient you are allergic to, don’t risk it.
  • If there is a may contain label find an alternative.

Enjoy your holiday!

For more information and advice about living with anaphylaxis, head to the Anaphylaxis Campaign website. Follow our blog on twitter.

Patrick 🙂

Easter Tips

Easter is a time of fun and celebration, but also comes with many hidden allergens that many people are unaware of, especially for children who don’t realise just how many problems that can be caused by sweets, Easter eggs and activities.

I know it can be hard to resist the temptation of Easter chocolate and sweets, but many of them may contain traces of nuts, wheat, milk and eggs. The thing to remember is: If you can’t read the ingredients, don’t eat it, a rule that should apply to any situation. Just because you’ve eaten something before, doesn’t mean it still has the same recipe, as companies are constantly updating ingredients.

Although many items of food come with a list of ingredients, home made food rarely does. It can be very difficult to decline food from a generous host, who has written down every ingredient for you, but even the best of chefs can accidentally contaminate something using the same utensils, or working in the same space as where a previous allergen has been.

Not only are eggs themselves an allergen, but also food colourings used to decorate, as they can cause skin reactions in people with sensitive skin, and perhaps a more serious reaction, as any skin exposure can quickly turn into oral exposure.

Hay-fever can also be a large problem to people, causing sneezing, watering eyes, blocked noses, coughing, and may even trigger asthma. A simple way to avoid this is, if inside, you can keep all windows closed to stop pollen from polluting an Easter party.

With Easter comes the birth of many animals, and one of the typical Easter animals, rabbits, can trigger reactions to a similar level of pollen. When visiting relatives with pets, or going to an Easter fair, be sure to go prepared, with allergy tablets, and precautions that a reaction could be triggered.


Becoming responsible for your own allergy

As you progress into adulthood you will need to become more independent and vocal about your allergies. Stop relying on your parents to carry around your EpiPen and to check food packaging. Here is a guide to becoming more responsible for your own allergies…

1. Remember your adrenaline injectors


Remember to bring your EpiPens wherever you go. There are many ways that you can carry your adrenaline injectors discreetly, no matter what the situation – there are no excuses! Let your friends know where it is in case of an emergency. If your friends are unaware of your allergy, let them know what the symptoms are and how to deal with a reaction. To teach your friends how to use your adrenaline injectors: you could use a trainer pen or show them demonstration videos (there are some on the Jext app). Alternatively, it is likely that your injector comes with an instructions guide which you could use. Also, for further information you can visit the Anaphylaxis Campaign website.

2. Always check the labels


Whatever you eat make sure to check the labels for your allergy. Even if you have eaten food from that particular brand before you still need to be cautious. Recipes do change from time to time and sometimes labeling for products in different size packs can alter. Don’t risk eating anything that has a ‘may contain’ label, as there will be an alternative which is free from cross-contamination.

3. Eating + Drinking – Out + About


Wherever you eat make sure to check whether the food is free from your allergy. Even if you have eaten that particular dish before, make sure to double check as recipes can change. You could either contact the restaurant in advance, raise the topic with a waiter or see if allergy menus are available.

Take extra care when consuming alcohol. Remember to check the labels, as some wines contain milk and eggs, whilst some gins and liquors contain nuts. Don’t share your drinks, just in case anyone you are with happens to have previously consumed something you are allergic to. Of course, try not to drink too much as you may not take your allergy so seriously.

4. Get Cooking


If you have time, having an allergy is a good excuse to improve your culinary skills. Whilst many pre-packed foods stamp ‘may contain’ labels across their products, you can always make your own which you know are definitely suitable for you. Plus, homemade food is likely to be more nutritious, cheap and can impress your friends, family or housemates. There is a section on the blog for recipes which we will be updating so, why not have a look and see if anything takes your fancy. Also, there are plenty of recipes on the internet and in books targeted at allergy sufferers.

To receive updates on the blog follow us on twitter or bookmark/favourite this site in your browser. For  more useful tips and information on allergens, head to the Anaphylaxis Campaign website.

Patrick 🙂

Nut Free Easter Chocolate 2017

Despite there being endless types of chocolate eggs for sale, it can seem difficult finding any which are free from nuts. Large hollow eggs appear to be almost no go zones as they either contain nuts or have a standard ‘may contain’ label. However, Kinnerton produce a variety of eggs which are made in factories free from cross-contamination and are therefore a safe option. Kinnerton also, produce some Magnum Easter eggs.

Malteasers sell bunnies, mini bunnies and a camper van bumper pack which are all nut free. Unfortunately, it appears that all other Malteasers eggs contain or may contain nuts.

Galaxy Golden eggs are also, free from nuts. Be careful though, as the caramel variety do contain nuts.

This year the only Easter offerings from Cadbury’s that are suitable for nut allergy sufferers are mini packs of and normal size creme eggs.

If you have come across any eggs or treats that you would like to recommend contact us on our Twitter page. Do remember to check the labels of any Easter treats before you eat them!

To receive updates on the blog follow us on twitter or bookmark/favourite this site in your browser. For  more useful tips and information on allergens, head to the Anaphylaxis Campaign website.

Patrick 🙂


How to keep safe this Valentine’s Day


I: Keep your adrenaline injectors with you at all times

Whatever you choose to do this Valentine’s Day make sure you have your adrenaline injectors with you. There are many ways that you can carry your EpiPens discreetly.


II: Eating out? Enquire in advance

If you are going to eat out at a restaurant, enquire about whether there is food that you can safely eat. If they are unable to cater for you,  you’ll have greater opportunity to book elsewhere. Even if you have eaten in a particular restaurant or food chain before, it is important to double check in case recipes have changed.


III: Chocolate – Check the labels


Always check the ingredients! If it says ‘may contain’ don’t risk it, there are plenty of alternative brands you can choose from, some brands such as Kinnerton take extra care in avoiding cross-contamination.


IV: Alcohol – Know the ingredients and effects

If you do drink alcohol, take care not to drink excessive amounts as you are more likely to act in a less sensible way, taking less care with your allergy. Also, alcohol can actually increase the severity of an allergic reaction. Remember to check the ingredients as some wines contain milk and eggs, whilst some gins and liquors contain nuts.


V: Think before kissing or sharing drinks

If your date has eaten something that you are allergic to and you share their saliva there is a 1 in 10 chance that you could have a reaction.

And make sure to have a happy Valentine’s Day!


To receive updates on the blog follow us on twitter or bookmark/favourite this site in your browser. For  more useful tips and information on allergens, head to the Anaphylaxis Campaign website.

Patrick 🙂

Hypoallergenic Makeup

For something to be hypoallergenic, it has to be relatively unlikely to cause an allergic reaction, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you are safe from everything.

When buying makeup, always make sure you do a patch test (testing the product on a small unaffected area of the body, preferably on the inside of the elbow or hand). Things that are hypoallergenic are gentler on the skin, and have the added bonus of less breakouts and less clogged pores.
Anything you put on your skin is absorbed by the body, and so avoiding products with harsh chemicals and artificial ingredients is better in the long run.
Most ingredients in makeup is safe for the skin, including zinc oxide and titanium oxide (who knew chemistry could be this useful?), but when particles are micronised (made smaller) they are able to enter the cells of your body, leading to further rashes and itching. Watch out for, and try to avoid nanoparticles, and parabens, and also things such as fragrances, herbal extracts, artificial colourings and bismuth oxychloride, which can also irritate the skin.

The best things to use are things that display the words ‘for sensitive skin’ paired with ‘hypoallergenic’ for added safety.
Brand that are recommended:
1. Cleure – named for their clean and pure products that are hypoallergenic and contain only natural ingredients

2. Boots’ No7 – hypoallergenic, has a return policy that lasts forever. If you react, you can always take it back.

3. Almay – another hypoallergenic makeup brand

4. BareMinerals – lipstick

5. Lancôme – mascara

6. Clinique – moisturiser

7. Covergirl – foundation

8. Jane Iredale – blush, eye liner

Tips to avoid reactions
1. Apply makeup with a brush or sponge and wash after each use with a hypoallergenic shampoo

2. Keep brushes in a dry area to avoid bacteria and other allergens

3. If you have a problem, try changing your moisturiser or cleanser, as the allergens may not be in the makeup itself


5 Useful Apps for Allergy Sufferers

In this article I have listed 5 apps (in no particular order) which aim to help you live with allergies. Included are apps which let you know the ingredients of food, alert those around you in the case of an allergic reaction and provide phrases for when you are travelling abroad…giphy1

Food Maestro

This app was designed to help allergy sufferers who often have to strain looking at the ingredients of food in supermarkets.

Simply type your allergies in and discover products from various categories that are safe for you to eat. You can search for specific food items using the search bar or use the barcode scanner to quickly find out the ingredients in the products you have at hand. There is an option to create a ‘shopping list’ on the app – this may come in useful to create a go to list for certain products you know are safe to eat. This app is free and available for android and apple devices.

Spoon Guru

Spoon Guru is very similar to Food Maestro as it has a barcode reader for checking ingredients, however this app also includes lots of recipes related to your search terms. So even if you can’t find anything you can eat, there is always the option to bake something yourself! This app therefore may be a good choice for a student at university. This app is also, free and available for android and apple devices.



If you have a Jext adrenaline auto-injector this app is very useful. Firstly you can put in the expiry date of your injector and be alerted when you need a new one. Also, the app contains video demonstrations including: symptoms of anaphylaxis, how to respond to symptoms and how to use your injector. The app also, has sheets listing phrases for a range of languages, if you are ever stuck when asking about ingredients in food abroad. This app is free and available on both android and apple.

Allergy Me: Medical ID/ Translate

Developed by a teenager suffering from allergies, Allergy Me: Translate aims to make travelling abroad easier with simple phrases in French and Spanish. Staff in Restaurants and food serving shops can then reply using a response from a list on the app. Therefore this app would be very helpful to anyone travelling abroad, especially if you are not fluent in the language.

Allergy Me: Medical ID alerts those around you in the event of an allergic reaction through an alarm. Simply type in your allergy and an emergency contact number. The app allows this information to be available even when the screen is locked so that whoever is around you, you can still receive help. These apps can be bought together on the apple store.

Alert 5

Submit the numbers of up to five contacts who will be automatically alerted if you have an allergic reaction and tap a button. If the number provided is a mobile, then a text message will be sent with your exact location. Of course, if you have a severe reaction you must first use your adrenaline injector and call 999. Therefore, this app is best for providing peace of mind to your friends or family. Alert 5 is available on apple devices for £4.99 a year



To receive updates on the blog follow us on twitter or bookmark/favourite this site in your browser. For  more useful tips and information on allergens, head to the Anaphylaxis Campaign website.

Patrick 🙂

What causes an allergic reaction?

What exactly is an ‘allergic reaction’?

What’s conjured up in your mind when an allergy is spoken about? Usually a runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes. Although these are the common symptoms of reactions, they are actually a chain of reactions, beginning in your own DNA. This is triggered through the immune system, designed to fend off any ‘invaders’ in the body.
For example, if you have an allergy to cat dander, your immune system identifies the dander as a foreign body, or an ‘allergen’. Your immune system overreacts, producing Immunoglobulin E, more commonly known as IgE, a form of antibody. These travel to cells to produce chemicals, causing an allergic reaction.

Each IgE is specific to its type of allergen; the more IgEs, the more allergies.
What about anaphylactic reactions?
More severe allergies are known as Anaphylaxis, a life threatening condition. It usually affects many areas of the body at once. Symptoms include itchy rashes, warm flushes, light-headedness, tightening of the throat, anxiety, cramps, diarrhoea and sickness. In extreme cases, it may result in drops in blood pressure, leading to loss of consciousness.

Caused once again by IgE, these antibodies are so sensitive that the most minute amounts of the allergen can set off a reaction.
In case of an anaphylactic reaction, immediate treatment is required: an epinephrine (adrenaline) injection, and a trip to the hospital. If the adrenaline isn’t administered, then the reaction can be fatal.


How to carry EpiPens discreetly

EpiPens can save your life in the event of an allergic reaction, but for many people their size and shape make them an annoying item to carry around on a daily basis. A recent survey carried out by the Anaphylaxis Campaign found that 44% of 15-25 year olds admitted to not always carrying their adrenaline injectors. Whilst many girls benefit from hand bags in which to carry it, boys must find an alternative way to store their EpiPens. I myself on occasions, have left the house without my injectors as I have not had somewhere to put them.

The Anaphylaxis Campaign has issued a powerful message with #TakeTheKit, a video which can be viewed above, highlighting the risks posed by leaving your EpiPen at home. There are cases of teenagers who have left home without adrenaline and lost their lives. #TakeTheKit also suggests that you must inform those around you, whether friends or family, of your allergy, the symptoms, how to react and where your adrenaline injector is stored. This is important as, in the event of a reaction you need support from other people, to help you recover, as you may not be in a state to help yourself.

What are the best ways of carrying EpiPens out and about?

Below is a list of various ways of storing EpiPens when out and about (in no particular order). I have attempted to weigh up each solution, as each have positive and negative aspects in different situations. In whichever way you do choose to carry your EpiPens it is important that you alert someone who is able to help you in the event of an allergic reaction, as to where you store them.

1. Coat Pockets:

Whilst jean pockets are generally too small for storing a couple of EpiPens, many coats have deeper pockets which are ideal for keeping EpiPens in.  If you do have any other clothing items with deep pockets these would also be ideal. However, this is not a permanent solution, as whilst you are likely to wear your coat quite often during Autumn and Winter, on hot summer days it is unlikely that you would wish to wear a big coat. Plus, you must remember where your coat is, or transfer your EpiPen when you are inside a building such as a restaurant or club.

2. Backpack:

Backpacks or man bags are an alternative way of keeping your EpiPen with you at all times. There are a range of different options available in different styles and sizes. If I don’t have my coat with me then I will most likely keep mine in my backpack. However, this may not always be practical as backpacks and bags can be quite bulky and big things to carry around.

3. Friend’s Handbag:

Alternatively, if you are with a friend/girlfriend who has a handbag they may be happy to carry your EpiPen for you. This may be a good idea if you are clubbing as you may not be able to wear a coat or carry a backpack of your own. This option is more practical than having to carry them in your hand. However, when I have previously asked for my friend to look after my EpiPens, I forgot to ask them to return my EpiPen and I had to collect them the next day. Also, if you do consider this option then you must stay with your friend, as you will need adrenaline close at hand in the event of a reaction.

4.  Belt Attachment:

Another solution is to use an EpiPen case with a loop or strap, allowing it to attach to belts. This option is great for keeping your EpiPen with you at all times as the case is literally attached to you. However, although my EpiPen case does have a belt attachment option, I do not use it in this way as it is large, therefore indiscreet and pulls my jeans down due to the weight of it. There are a range of different belt style cases available online, both made specifically for EpiPens and cases which may be used for other items, therefore it is worth doing a quick search before discounting this option.

5. Armband/Shin Pad Case:

This option may be a good one when playing sport as it is attached to you and you are still able to move freely and blend in with team mates. Armband and shin pad cases can also, be worn beneath clothing and, therefore are discreet in day to day life. However if your EpiPen is concealed beneath clothing, you must tell those you are with where it is in the event of a reaction and it must be easily accessible. Medical alert bracelets or necklaces are a good way of letting even strangers know that you have an allergy in the event of a reaction. Also, these cases may not be so discreet or fit when wearing skinny jeans or short sleeved clothing.

Whichever option you do choose, make sure to take the kit, as it could potentially save your life.

If you have any further suggestions of where EpiPens can be stored contact us or tweet us

To receive updates on the blog follow us on twitter or bookmark/favourite this site in your browser. For  more useful tips and information on allergens, head to the Anaphylaxis Campaign website.

Patrick 🙂