Nobody should be living in fear, it’s not a nice place to be. Believe me, I’ve been there. I have spent years too frightened to eat out. Scared people will laugh at me or think I’m a freak. Fearful that I will stand out, cause a fuss, be a pain in the allergic backside.

But that’s all stopping now. Since last year when I decided I was going to demand better and not hide behind anaphylaxis as a reason to not join in, explore, ask for a safe meal etc. I’m getting out there and mostly I’m enjoying the ride. I’ve been abroad on my own and had a fantastic business trip in Copenhagen, eating out in some amazing restaurants. I’ve tried new places here in the UK and have been very pleasantly surprised on the whole. Give me Ham, egg and chips or steak and I’ll be more than happy. Offer me something a little more adventurous and I’ll be your number one fan and visit often with all my friends and family.

So far I’ve been fine but I’ve had a few minor reactions along the way. I won’t lie and say it’s been easy because it hasn’t but what I have learnt is that most people are kind, most people will listen and take your allergies seriously and when they don’t you can usually tell.

Look for the sighs. The eye roll. The tsk tsk. The impatient look. The comments like, “What can you eat? Fresh air? Dust?”

Well no actually, I can’t eat dust either because I’m allergic to that too!

It's Allergy Awareness Week so I wanted to talk about living with fear

It’s Allergy Awareness Week so I wanted to talk about living with fear

What scares me more than having a life threatening allergy is ignorance. People in positions of power, like waiters, chefs and restaurant managers who don’t take allergies seriously. Allergies and anaphylaxis can be potentially life threatening but it’s not rocket science to help me choose a safe meal and to ensure the kitchen is clean to avoid cross contamination.

Failing to take allergies seriously is very dangerous.
Treating people with allergies with disdain breeds poor allergy awareness.
Discrimination spreads the opinion that it’s not that bad really. That maybe we just get a bit of a runny nose or a tummy upset.

Some people don’t get it until they’ve seen someone having full blown anaphylaxis.
Some people don’t really understand until they’ve put me in A&E. They usually just didn’t quite realise either what dairy was, which allergens were the issue, how bad it could be. But if anyone says they are allergic to something, whether they is a mild allergy or not, don’t take the risk. Take it seriously. Ask questions, check if you’re not sure.

Don’t be one of those people who doesn’t care.
Who says something like, “Oh you’ll be fine.” or “This should be OK.” without checking.
Listen, ask us how bad our allergy is, please take us seriously. Always check something if you are not sure.

We are not lying. We are just trying to live our lives and take part in all the stuff most people take for granted.

If you are reading this and you don’t understand what anaphylaxis is, visit the Allergy UK website to find out more.

On one final note, one of the things I fear most of all is peanuts in public places and the peanut kiss. They get everywhere. I can smell them a mile off and then I’m on hyper alert to gauge whose eating them and who potential might be about to plaster me with the dust of the stuff.

So please be aware of allergens. Listen when people say they have them.
Be nice, be kind and spread a positive attitude to allergies.

What do you live in fear of? If you have allergies that can cause anaphylaxis, what are you biggest fears?



An allergy and health writer and freelance copywriter, Ruth is passionate about helping those with allergies and food intolerances take control, embrace their condition, and learn to live with and love who they are. It can be very lonely finding you have allergies and discovering what helps you can be a life long journey. What works for one person won't work for another, so after trying nearly every allergy treatment under the sun and finding hours of research necessary to keep abreast of what's going on, Ruth started writing her blog, What Allergy? in April 2009. Ruth has life threatening allergies herself to all nuts, all diary, tomatoes and celery and knows first-hand what it's like to have an anaphylactic attack. Voted in the Top 5 UK allergy blogs by Cision UK in 2011, What Allergy is packed full of interesting articles, hints and tips and product reviews which are a must read for anyone with allergies, food intolerances or sensitivities, asthma and eczema. From subjects such as "What is celery allergy?" to "Surviving a holiday abroad with allergies", it's packed with useful and interesting information. You can register free for a weekly newsletter by visiting her website http://whatallergy.com/ and also keep in touch by following her on Facebook and Twitter.

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