Dr Pixie McKenna on food allergies

Woman looking at cake

Egg allergy

My egg allergy means I’m terrified to eat anyone else’s cooking, and once ended up in hospital needing an adrenaline injection. How can I help prevent this happening again?

You should carry an EpiPen (adrenaline pen) and antihistamines at all times. Talk to your GP about getting yourself an emergency pack. They go out of date quickly, so check the label and get a new one before it expires. Make sure that a third party is familiar with using it in case you’re ever in a position where you can’t use it yourself. Pre-packed food containing egg must list it, so always check the labels carefully. Restaurants will use eggs in their recipes, and some cosmetic products also contain them, so be alert. Tell the doctor when being prescribed medication or having a jab. Eggs are in the flu vaccine and the yellow fever vaccine. Wear an allergy alert bracelet, and tell all your friends, family and work colleagues about it.
For more details visit www.allergyuk.org

Peanut allergy

I won’t let my four-year-old son eat peanuts as I’m terrified of him developing an allergy. Am I being an overprotective mother?

Peanuts can be a choking hazard for adults and kids alike. On that basis I wouldn’t give peanuts to a child of four. The general advice is not to expose children to peanuts below the age of three. Asthma and eczema sufferers are more likely to develop a reaction. They are usually first noticed between the ages of one and two. Peanuts and peanut oil are found in lots of products, so there’s a good chance he has already been exposed. If in doubt, take an allergy test.
For more information visit www.peanutallergyuk.co.uk

Shellfish allergy

What precautions should I take when cooking for somebody with a shellfish allergy?

This type of allergy can be lethal. Avoid all fish. Make sure you’ve cleaned all surfaces thoroughly when preparing your meal and don’t buy foods that have been kept in refrigerated cabinets next to shellfish. Steer clear of Asian cuisine that uses fish sauce as a flavouring base and pre-made dishes. You must cook everything from scratch.

Raw fruit allergies

When I eat raw fruit, my mouth tingles and my lips swell. Am I allergic?

This sounds like oral allergy syndrome, and is most commonly seen in people who suffer from hayfever. This reaction tends to happen only when the food is raw; you’re unlikely to react if it’s cooked. When you suffer from a reaction you should rinse out your mouth with water and take an antihistamine. These reactions are usually self-limiting, rarely developing into life-threatening allergic reactions. However, if your breathing’s affected or throat feels like it is closing, call 999. In the meantime, avoid raw fruit and veg and always carry an antihistamine tablet.

Dr Pixie McKenna is a GP and columnist for Best magazine. She's a regular presenter on 'Embarrassing Bodies'. Follow Dr Pixie on Twitter

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