Misconceptions around Nut Allergies
With all the talk about Allergy Awareness over the past few weeks, we thought it might be a good idea to put together a few questions that people with allergies frequently get asked, and answer them. There’s a lot of stereotypes/misconceptions out there around allergies and the people that have them, so we thought it might be good to highlight these to help raise awareness.
Q. Is it just an intolerance/diet choice?
A. I think the perception around intolerances to dairy/lactose/gluten seems to have really changed over the past few years, to the point that more restaurants are offering vegan/gluten free menus. Therefore, when I go to a restaurant or cafe, people do assume that me saying ‘I can’t have nuts’ is simply a choice, or is something that will make me feel slightly ill. Unfortunately, some allergies can be very serious, to the point of fatalities, and nut allergies are usually one of those. Even so, if it was just an intolerance/diet choice - should you take that any less seriously? No. I think if someone tells you they can’t eat something, it’s probably good to listen, and help them out with alternatives.
Maybe a better question would be: Do you carry an epipen? This will help you to know if the allergy is serious. Though, you must ask yourself why that’s important to you. If it’s so that you know to be aware to administer the injection if a reaction occurs, then fine. If it’s so that you can decide whether to take their allergy seriously - not so good.
Q. Does the EpiPen go in your chest?
A. I’m sure it could do, but please don’t! Unfortunately the media has done nothing to help educate people on this - the EpiPen should be administered in the thigh so it can get to the arteries quickly. There are a few different providers of adrenaline, and EpiPen is just one, so check which one you’re dealing with first - but you can find guides online with a quick Google https://www.epipen.ca/en/about-epipen/how-to-use.
You would definitely be forgiven for asking this question, given scenes in films like Pulp Fiction, or Horrible Bosses:
Maybe a better question would be: Can you show me how to administer an EpiPen so I’m equipped if I need to?
Q. But you won’t die if I eat them near you, will you?
A. Possibly! Some allergies are airborne, meaning someone could have a reaction just from sitting near you while you have them. This is why we kick up such a fuss on aeroplanes - we’re not doing it for fun, believe it or not. Never have I thought, ‘I’d love to stop people being able to enjoy a salty snack on their flight’ - it’s simply ‘I don’t want to die on this flight’. That’s why petitions like this one are so important > https://www.change.org/p/uk-parliament-ban-nuts-and-nut-products-from-airlines
Also, just as a note - if you would rather risk causing someone to have a severe allergic reaction than give up your snacks for a few hours, you really ought to reassess your priorities.
Maybe a better question would be: Do you mind if I eat (insert allergen here) around you?
Q. Don’t you wish you could eat Snickers?
A. Not really, no. There are loads of chocolates out there that are safe for someone with a nut allergy - trust me, if there’s an alternative out there - I will find it. There’s 5 very popular ones in this post https://www.may-contain.com/new-blog/2018/2/19/have-you-eaten-nuts-1-ke4ze-5l58c
It’s hard to miss something you’ve never tried. Also - who is this question helping? If you want to ask this, ask yourself why first.
Maybe a better question would be: Are there any good nut/allergy free chocolates?