|Anaphylaxis action plan|
Nut-allergic Ruth Holroyd who, on two previous occasions just survived serious reactions without using her Epipen describes how she did use her pen this winter for the first time and suggests an ‘allergy action plan’ to help others through a similar experience.
On a cold, icy, snowy afternoon in February this year I used my EpiPen for the first time ever, whilst in the grip of a terrifying anaphylactic attack.
I had been out for lunch with a friend and had what I felt should be a safe meal: smoked salmon and scrambled eggs with brown bread and salad. (I didn’t eat the brown bread!) During the meal I did experience a slight tingling in my mouth and throat. I foolishly ignored these early symptoms and carried on eating the food until I’d finished everything but the bread. It was delicious and I thoroughly enjoyed it, all washed down with a large glass of red wine.
What did I do?
What caused it? I was very anxious about the cause of this latest attack. Having checked with the pub where I ate, they insisted the meal contained no nuts (although I have numerous intolerances I only have a serious allergy to all nuts) and the menu for lunch contained no dishes with nuts in the ingredients. The nuts they do use are kept in sealed containers in the kitchen – so it is unlikely that I consumed nuts. They even produced packaging to prove that the salmon and bread did not contain nuts. So what did I react to? It seems I have developed a new allergy. My doctor thought the most likely offender was the eggs. If they are cooked quickly and contain any raw egg anaphylaxis can occur.
Every anaphylaxis sufferer should also join the Anaphylaxis Campaign. They provide an alert service by post to flag any products that have been recalled due to incorrect labelling and possible contamination with allergenic food types. www.anaphylaxis.org.uk
Do you wear a medical bracelet or necklace? I have a MedicAlert necklace but had got out of the habit of wearing it. Two organisations which supply these in the UK are MedicAlert and SOS Talisman: www.medicalert.org.uk (0800 581 420); www.medical-bracelets.co.uk 0141 639 7090.
I now make sure I wear mine every day. All medics are trained to recognise these and they will then have instant life saving information about you if you can’t tell them yourself.
Finally, I would urge everyone to write an action plan. I didn’t have one and clearly when I look back on this attack I did everything in the wrong order and panicked under the pressure. I have now written one, and a copy is now stored in my EpiPen pouch.
Include emergency numbers in your action plan and explain in lay persons’s terms exactly what needs to done and when.
Practise with a trainer pen You can also get a free trainer pen to practise with and to demonstrate the technique. I would recommend that all allergy sufferers do this as you can then practise and demonstrate how to use your EpiPen safely with no worry of activating your real pen by mistake.
Meanwhile, please do check in with me on my new allergy blog at www.whatallergy.com.
First published in 2009
If you found this article interesting, you will find many more articles on anaphylaxis here, and reports of research into anaphylaxis here.