Teens in the Real World
  Food Allergies in the Real World  

A Reaction at College

A college student who is allergic to peanut shares with us the circumstances involving an allergic reaction she had in the college dining hall. Although the ingredients of the food she ate were properly listed, she relied on a special symbol that the school used to indicate that a food was allergy-free, instead of reading the ingredients.

After just a few bites, the girl’s mouth and lips began to itch. In the past, she had experienced only mild symptoms during a reaction, and she assumed her reaction would be the same this time. She left her friends in the dining hall and ran to the bathroom, where she quickly began to feel worse. Here, she describes what happened next:

“My lips started to swell and my whole body was itching, and I was sweating like crazy. Just as I stepped out of the stall, a woman asked if I was okay. Miraculously, she worked at the health center and was able to take me there and get me in.

“I was getting weak and threw up a couple of times, and finally the doctor came in. At this point I couldn’t think, I couldn’t talk (my mouth and tongue were swelling), and I just couldn’t stop crying. But he talked to me and gave me epinephrine and Benadryl®. I felt like my hands and feet were starting to shake like they were being electrocuted, and my stomach started to cramp up. My heart was racing, and my sweat had soaked through the paper on the bed.”

The student was then taken by ambulance to the local hospital for further treatment. Luckily, she survived her reaction. Doctors at the hospital told her that she needed to carry self-injectable epinephrine with her at all times, in case she has a severe reaction in the future.

“I don’t want to think about this prospect, but I guess I have to now,” she writes. “I am very much not invincible, and I can’t pretend that I can live my life the same as before.”

How can you avoid a similar situation?

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