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Active Retirees : Active Retirees Dec-Jan 2013
Allergies are serious conditions. People aren't just being fussy about their food. Nor do they need toughening up. An allergic reaction can be fatal, but those without an allergy often don't take them seriously. “It’s diffcult for some people to understand that a certain food for one person can be nutritious, yet for another, it can be life threatening," explains president of Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia Maria Said. An allergy is caused by a reaction to naturally occurring protein molecules in foods, which are generally harmless substances, unless of course you're allergic to them. "It's an immune system response to that food protein," explains Said. Things that cause allergic reactions are called allergens and the most common ones in Australia, accounting for 90 per cent of allergic reactions are peanuts, sesame, eggs, wheat, cow milk, soy, tree nuts, fsh and shellfsh. "Even the smallest amounts of these foods can trigger a reaction in people who are allergic to them," says Said. Other things such as pollen, dust, animals, mould and bee stings are also allergens. Additionally, warns Said, drug or medication allergies are quite common in people over 55. Allergic reactions can be mild to moderate or severe, and commonly occur within the frst two hours of consuming the food. But some reactions start almost immediately after the food has touched the allergy sufferer's mouth. Signs of a mild or moderate reaction include hives on the body, swelling of the lips, eyes and face, vomiting, abdominal pain, and a tingling sensation in the mouth, according to Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia. Just because a reaction starts as mild or moderate though, it doesn't mean that it isn't serious. While calling or visiting a GP for a mild reaction is usually fne, it pays to be aware that allergic reactions can progress from mild to severe rapidly. Dr Georga Cooke from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners advises that if there is swelling of the lips and you have diffculty breathing, it’s worth seeking urgent medical attention as these symptoms occur in severe reactions too. A severe allergic reaction -- known as an anaphylactic attack -- is life threatening. Signs of a severe reaction include diffculty breathing, swelling of the tongue and tightness of the throat, wheezing, coughing, trouble talking, dizziness and even collapse. Some people can go straight to the signs of a severe reaction without any of the mild or moderate symptoms. "If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, call an ambulance. There is no such thing as a silly call to the ambulance," warns Dr Cooke. •• Turn to page 34 to fnd out more about preventing anaphylaxis. IN AN EMERGENCY Having a plan to deal with anaphylaxis is vital if someone in your family experiences severe allergies. Maria Said offers a four-step plan. 1 Administer an adrenaline auto-injector (also known as an EpiPen), which is an adrenaline filled, auto- injecting needle. EpiPens are prescribed by doctors. 2 Stay with the person and call an ambulance. 3 Lie the person flat unless breathing is difficult. They can also sit but do not let them stand. 4 Ambulance officers will transport the person to hospital for further treatment and observation. Patients must be observed for four hours after the last dose of adrenaline. If you or someone you know has an allergy, familiarise yourself with the Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy Action Plan for Anaphylaxis, available at the society's website. W: www.allergy.org.au Signs of a severe reaction include difficulty breathing, swelling of the tongue and tightness of the throat. HEALTH Active RetireesTM | 33
Active Retirees Oct-Nov 2012
Active Retirees Feb-March 2013