Archive for January, 2013

Pre-Holiday Checklist for Nut Allergy Sufferers – 5 Useful Tips

January is a popular time of year for people to go on holiday, jetting off away from Britain’s winter cold. Or with 2013 now upon us, people might be starting to think about Easter and summer holidays. For nut allergy sufferers, there are a few extra considerations beyond the manic pre-holiday mayhem, which will make their lives a bit easier when managing their allergies abroad.

I’ve listed five useful things you can do before you board the plane or hit the road, which will make your holiday a bit more stress-free.

1. Learn a new language!

If you are going on holiday in a non-English speaking country, learning a few words or sentences could help you vastly. Even if you know the word for ‘nut’ in the language of your destination, it will certainly help you when studying food packaging ingredients in a foreign language. Sentences would be even more helpful for communication in a language you don’t speak. Do your homework before hand. Ask people fluent in the language or use Internet translator websites like Google Translate or BabelFish. I have vivid memories of asking an unsuspecting and increasingly-confused German shop-worker ‘I… have… a… nut… allergy. Does… this… food… have… nuts… in?’ in my rather detached German, whilst holidaying in the Black Forest. We got there in the end, and I stayed safe. I was very glad I had done my research before hand, and scribbled down a few useful sentences.

2. Your EpiPen is as important as your passport!

Little Protection: My everyday bum bag for carrying EpiPens

EpiPens are Very, Very Important Abroad. Make Sure You have Packed Them – PLEASE DO NOT FORGET THEM

Do not get on the plane without your EpiPen. In the usual mad packing rush, make sure you have it with you. Prioritise it highly and rank it alongside your passport. I cannot stress enough how important your EpiPen could be abroad. The same rules apply abroad as they do here – the EpiPen is a life-saver in an emergency situation. In foreign surroundings it could buy you the necessary time it takes to contact the emergency services. Also, EpiPen is a world-recognised brand, and will communicate to emergency services you suffer from Anaphylactic reactions. With this theme, I move on to tip 3…

3. Put on your SOS Talisman and forget about it!

If someone abroad sees one of the company products – whether this is a bracelet, a necklace or a keyring – there is every chance that they will recognise the brand. Consequently, they will recognise that you suffer from some allergy or condition. Make sure the information inside the Talisman is up-to-date before you depart, especially your doctor’s details, your medical condition and your vaccination history. If anything, the importance of the SOS increases if you are having an allergic reaction abroad because there is a greater chance that you won’t be able to communicate. The SOS is a great little tool, really easy to carry and very difficult to lose. So when you have put the piece of jewellery on in the first place, you don’t have to worry about it after that.

4. Inform Travel Companies about your Allergy. TWICE!


Inform Travel Companies About Your Allergy [Image courtesy of xlibber]

Whether you are travelling by coach, plane or any other means, it is really important to tell travel companies that you have an allergy – both when you book and on the day. This is especially important for people with more serious allergies who can have an allergic reaction through breathing in nut particles in the air (although even if your allergy is not this serious it is still important to inform such companies). On planes and coaches you are in confined spaces where this type of reaction is a serious threat, and the company will make provisions to make sure nuts are not consumed by anyone on-board. You might become the anonymous Mr/Mrs Unpopular for a moment or so, but it is certainly a sufficient precaution!

5. If You’re Not Sure, Don’t Eat It! Don’t take the Risk.

This is the hardest piece of advice to give, because people who know their own allergy have built up a set of personal rules with regard to what they trust eating. When you are on holiday, you will probably want to try the local cuisine. For some people it is one of the main attractions of holidaying abroad. But the last thing you want is to take a risk, consume nuts and end up in hospital. My mentality with food is that if I’m not sure, I don’t eat it. And for me, this mentality would be all the more prominent abroad where you are more likely to stumble upon food you have never had before. You might be disappointed at not being allowed to a certain cuisine when your friends and family are tucking in, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

For more details and tips, please have a look at the Allergy UK page for travelling abroad with a food allergy. It’s an excellent page. Finally and most importantly, enjoy your holiday! By taking these 5 simple steps your nut allergy won’t get in the way of you having the time of your life.


Mail Online Article – Student’s Allergic Reactions caused by Teacher’s Nut-Scented Candles

Just a short post, this. I found it an interesting read, and I think you might too.

I found an article on The Daily Mail’s online site, Mail Online, with nut allergies as a central theme. This story is based in Georgia, USA, where a teacher reportedly refused to stop lighting a nut-scented candle in her classroom when it was repeatedly giving a 16-year-old student an allergic reaction. The article says the teacher put out the candle before the nut allergy sufferer was in the room, but this would still give her student a reaction because there was nut oil in the air of the classroom when she later entered.

The article was published on 16 October 2012, and contains a video of the CBS Atlanta TV news report on the story. Give it a read/view – it is another example of how dangerous nut allergies can be even when a sufferer doesn’t actually eat one. Consumption of nuts through particles in the air is a concept that has come up a lot since I’ve been writing this blog. It is becoming apparent that this is a real and constant danger for people with very serious nut allergies.

The story is available at the link below:

Daily Mail

Article from Mail Online [Image courtesy of Edmond Wells]

The SOS Talisman: An Important Little Thing

My Talisman

I was given an SOS talisman when I was very young. I cannot remember exactly when, but I certainly had it during my primary school years and I may have received it even earlier than then. I wore it around my neck to school every day until I was about 13 or 14 and then stopped. I cannot recall why, but probably due to the inconvenience of connecting the minuscule loop to the chain every drowsy school-day morning.

I had never worn it since, until a few weeks ago when I needed to prove I had a nut allergy to explain why I was carrying EpiPens when I visited the public gallery in Cardiff Crown Court. But despite my reluctance to use it on a daily basis, I certainly see the merit of the SOS talisman.


SOS: My talisman and chain

Why are they Important?

The personal and medical information contained in the talisman – the exact details of which I will list later – could save vital time in an emergency situation. For example, if a nut allergy sufferer goes into anaphylactic shock the talisman can effectively communicate for them when it is not possible for them to do so. This is particularly important for their treatment, and can save the emergency services crucial time in making a diagnosis. Proper and quick treatment can save financial costs, as well as, of course, human lives.

The SOS medallion can be effective for a wide range of sufferers beyond people with nut allergies. For example; Diabetes, Autism, Emphysema and Anaemia, amongst others, can be helped by an SOS talisman, while people with hearing or visual impairments and those taking multiple types of medicine can also benefit from them.


Inside: The Paper Folds as such Inside the Talisman

The SOS talisman brand is also recognised internationally, so it can be very helpful when a sufferer is on holiday. It might be the difference in allowing someone to tell you if there are nuts in certain food, if the person knows what exactly you suffer from. In these cases, the talisman can break language barriers.

Also, as it states on the SOS talisman website, the medallion is: “Both water-tight and heat resistant, yet easily accessible in an emergency.” On mine, all you have to do is twist the top, and you are inside in 5 seconds.

Inside the Talisman

So what is inside the talisman? It is basically a folded up piece of paper with categories of information on. On the front, it has the SOS number while my basic yet important details are in the middle. These include my name, address and contact details of my parents and my doctor (with indications that they are GB numbers), as well as my religion.


Unfolded: The Paper Inside the Talisman Containing Important Information

Then on the back there is my allergy and the medicine that I would require in an emergency. There is also a list of the vaccinations that I have had and whether they are up to date. Penultimately, there is a list of any other medical conditions (i.e. hay fever) and finally there is more detail of my main allergy, for example the types of nuts I am most allergic to – Brazil nuts and Hazelnuts.

Other SOS Jewellery

There are other jewellery options other than the original talisman. There are a variety of bracelets, pendants, watch capsules and straps, available in stainless steel, gold, chrome, silver and many more. And this is only from the SOS talisman brand.

Others such as Universal Medical ID produce fashionable medical jewellery, and even sell other items like ID-engraved sports bands and even a USB dog tag!

But whether you choose fashion or simplicity, a nut allergy sufferer should have an SOS talisman and I should definitely use mine more often. SOS talisman markets its products with the line: “Jewellery that can save your life.” They are certainly not wrong.

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