Dr C: “We need to pro­tect al­lergy suf­fer­ers”

Natasha Ed­nan-lap­er­ouse died af­ter eat­ing a baguette that con­tained sesame, but wasn’t la­belled. Dr C wants aware­ness

Closer (UK) - - Contents -

Natasha’s death N was tragic and need­less (the 15 year old col­lapsed mid-flight af­ter suf­fer­ing an al­ler­gic re­ac­tion to a Pret a Manger baguette and later died in hos­pi­tal).

LA­BELS MUST CHANGE

I was sur­prised all the al­ler­gens weren’t listed, but I un­der­stand they are now ad­dress­ing this. Two Epipens were jabbed into her legs, but sadly nei­ther worked. A ju­nior doc­tor then per­formed CPR, but wasn’t told there was a de­fib­ril­la­tor on board. Paramedics met the plane but their de­fib­ril­la­tor didn’t work, ei­ther. She was in­cred­i­bly un­lucky, but her death is a re­minder that we need bet­ter aware­ness about al­ler­gies. It’s not some­one be­ing awk­ward – it could kill them.

Many peo­ple don’t know the dif­fer­ence be­tween in­tol­er­ances and al­ler­gies. An in­tol­er­ance is caused by you lack­ing a cer­tain enzyme needed to di­gest some­thing – like lac­tose in milk – so you get di­ar­rhoea or bloat­ing. An al­lergy is an im­mune sys­tem hy­per­sen­si­tiv­ity, so you get a his­tamine re­lease that can be deadly. A mild al­ler­gic re­ac­tion would make you feel itchy or give you a rash; a se­vere re­ac­tion would make your throat swell, you’d have breath­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, feel faint and po­ten­tially lose con­scious­ness. In a nut­shell, for an in­tol­er­ance, you’d have a pep­per­mint tea, for a low-level re­ac­tion an an­ti­his­tamine, and for a se­vere re­ac­tion you need to use your Epipen and call 999.

Say your child wants to in­vite a friend over, but they have al­ler­gies, don’t panic, sim­ply call their mum and ask for their ad­vice. If, say, you have a peanut al­lergy, even kiss­ing some­body who has eaten peanuts could cause a re­ac­tion, so you need to know how al­ler­gic they are.

GET A PROPER TEST

Chil­dren can grow out of al­ler­gies to things like milk, eggs and soy, but you rarely grow out of al­ler­gies to nuts, sesame and seafood, and you can de­velop an al­lergy at any time. If you sus­pect you or your child has an al­lergy, don’t rely on high street tests, see your GP.

BE AWARE, SAVE LIVES

Natasha’s life ought to have been saved. Air­lines shouldn’t just rely on there be­ing a GP on board, emer­gency med­i­cal equip­ment should be avail­able in-light, and food should be la­belled cor­rectly. Even then, peo­ple will make mis­takes – a new chef could mud­dle up chop­ping boards, for ex­am­ple – so we all need to know about al­ler­gies. Ask ques­tions, know to call 999, and hope­fully this won’t hap­pen again.

DR CHRIS­TIAN GIVES HIS TAKE ON THE HOT HEALTH TOP­ICS OF THE WEEK

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