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Living with allergies as a teenager or young adult

Becoming responsible for your own allergy

Managing your allergies independently can be hard work and may bring many challenges.

We know that teenagers are more likely to take part in risk-taking behaviours and therefore it is essential that they carry their emergency medication at all times and learn to self-manage their allergies.

This resource will provide information and advice to build your confidence and to help you to manage your allergies on your own.

Becoming responsible for your own allergies

As you progress into adulthood you will need to become more independent and will have to speak up about your allergies instead of relying on your parents. This includes:

  • carrying your emergency medications (including adrenaline auto-injector if you have one) at all times
  • checking that your medications are in date
  • requesting repeat prescriptions for your medications before they run out and before they expire from your gp
  • checking food labels
  • being aware of the risk of cross-contamination with certain packaged foods (such as chocolate, cereals, health bars) and all unpackaged foods
  • cooking and preparing your own food
  • planning ahead for social situations including eating out
    • asking at restaurants in advance and always before you order food
    • double checking food that you have eaten before in case the recipe has changed
  • being aware that alcohol and drugs can affect your judgment and ability to make sensible decisions.
    • drinking alcohol can also increase the severity of your allergic reactions.
    • some alcoholic drinks contain allergens so always check labels or ask before drinking.
  • being aware that smoking can also increase the severity of your allergic reaction, particularly if you have asthma
  • making your friends aware of your allergies and educating them about what avoidance means and what to do in an emergency (including how to use your adrenaline auto-injector if you have one)
  • thinking about dating, kissing and sharing food and drink
    • if your partner has eaten something you are allergic to even several hours before and you kiss there is a chance that you could have an allergic reaction
    • intimate contact of any kind can also be responsible for allergic reactions through the transfer of food allergens into bodily fluids

Allergies at university

University can be a scary but exciting time and will bring about a lot of new challenges. As a young independent adult you will be responsible for managing your allergies safely.

Top tips for uni

  • Register with a GP if you are not in your home town.
  • Make your friends and flatmates aware of your allergies and educate them about what avoidance means and what to do in an emergency, including how to use your adrenaline auto-injector if you have one.
  • If you share a kitchen, have your own cupboard, cutlery, crockery, pots and pans to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Clean kitchen surfaces well before you prepare your own food.
  • When planning careers, please be aware that you may not be able to have a career in the armed forces if you have severe allergy or carry an adrenaline auto-injector.

Travelling with allergies

  • Pack your emergency medications in your hand luggage and have it close at hand at all times.
  • If travelling by plane, contact the airline in advance to check their allergy policy.
  • If possible, carry an airline letter written by your doctor authorising you to carry your emergency medications.
  • Research the area you are visiting and find out where the nearest hospital is and how to phone emergency medical services.
  • Advise your hotel of your allergies.
  • Check at restaurants and any food outlets before eating anything.
  • Consider buying translation cards from Allergy UK or making your own to take with you.
  • Make sure your travelling companions are aware of your allergies and know what to do in an emergency.

Useful apps for allergy sufferers

  • Food Maestro
  • Jext – if you carry Jext adrenaline auto-injectors
  • Emerade – if you carry Emerade adrenaline auto-injectors
  • AllergyMe:Translate – simple phrases in French and Spanish for individuals with allergies

Further information, help and support

Allergy nurses: call 0114 226 7872 or email scn-tr.allergy@nhs.net

Allergy secretaries: call 0114 271 7585 (an answer machine is available out of hours)

Allergy UK: call 01322 619898 or visit www.allergyuk.org

Asthma UK: call 01322 619898 or visit www.asthma.org.uk

The Anaphylaxis Campaign: 01252 542029 or visit www.anaphylaxis.org.uk

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: ALG12

Resource Type: Article


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