Food allergies are one of Australia's most steadily increasing conditions. Approximately 1% of adults and 6% of children in Australia are affected by food allergies. It's most likely that that you will know someone with this often life-long condition.
What is a food allergy?
A food allergy is a condition in which, after consuming food, a bodily reaction occurs, often involving swelling of the lips, abdominal pains or vomiting.
Its severe form, anaphylaxis, is a life-threatening and sometimes fatal reaction to certain foods. Common triggers range from foods such as nuts, kiwi, egg and seafood.
Australia and New Zealand combined account for the highest prevalence of allergic disorders within the developed world, according to the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy.
My experience with anaphylaxis
I only discovered that I had anaphylaxis in 2007 when I was 16 years old. My mum had made my family pesto for dinner. Upon taking one bite, my entire throat began to close in. My family had always been aware of my food allergy since I was young, but never sought confirmation from an allergist.
It wasn't until arriving at the emergency department after being stuck in footy traffic that we learnt if I had arrived later, the consequences could have been fatal.
Unfortunately, anaphylaxis is a condition that currently has no cure. However, there have been many recent findings that provide insight as to the cause, including a discovery by scientists, that links lower levels of sun exposure and higher cases of allergies.
Anaphylaxis Australia (new window) is a not-for-profit organistation aimed at raising awareness and to offer support to those with the condition. The programme's MATE ("Make Allergy Treatment Easier") campaign promotes five simple steps to ensure food allergy safety:
- Always take food allergies seriously
- Don't share your food with friends who have allergies
- Wash your hands after eating
- Know what your friends are allergic to
- If an allergic schoolmate becomes sick, get help immediately
- Ensure that if you have a friend that needs an EpiPen (an injection of adrenaline), they have explained to you how to use it in an event of an emergency
It's important that everyone remains aware of this issue, regardless of whether you do not know of someone with the condition.
From May 16-22 2010, Anaphylaxis Australia is running a food allergy awareness week, giving people the opportunity to discuss and raise awareness of an issue that is steadily growing amongst our generation.
As members of society, it is our duty to look out one for another. So look out for your friends and make sure that both you and your peers are allergy-aware.
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Articles Written by Laura L
Reviews written by Laura L
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