Allergy ignorance

CAN a banana or a kiwi fruit kill?

Yes, according to Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia.

Common allergies to peanuts (85 per cent) and shellfish (52 per cent) are well-known, but a simple stick of celery causes a life threatening reaction in six per cent of the population and a kiwifruit is a red light for nine per cent.

Fatal reaction

Australia has one of the highest food allergies in the developed world, but a recent study revealed that few people know what to do if someone is having a potentially fatal reaction.

AAA boss Maria Said says it highlights a critical need for community education.

“It reveals an extremely dangerous combination of lack of awareness and complacency,” she says.

“Australians need to recognise people with food allergies are not making a ‘fuss’ and that this is a medical issue we need to all take seriously.

More than half the population surveyed didn’t know the signs or symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, and reckoned there’s too much “fuss” over food allergies and that people, especially parents, were overprotective.

Seventy per cent had no idea how to use an adrenaline auto-injector (EpiPen), and a third had never heard of one.

But with an estimated 650,000 Australian’s having a diagnosed food allergy, and around 30,000 new cases each year, there’s a good chance someone you know will have an allergy, Ms Said says.

“One in 10 babies born today will develop a food allergy.”

“To have any chance of preventing reactions, including fatalities, we need to significantly increase community awareness…so everyone can spot the signs of anaphylaxis and know what to do in an emergency.”

Signs to look for are dizziness, collapse, swelling of the tongue, difficulty breathing, difficulty talking and/or a hoarse voice, a persistent cough and a swelling or tightness in the throat.

The person should be laid flat with their legs raised if possible, and an ambulance called and an EpiPen administered.

After five minutes if there’s no response or their condition worsens re-administer a second EpiPen.

For more information go to http://www.foodallergyaware.com.au

by JENNY D’ANGER

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