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Allergy Expo Canada
Living With Anaphylaxis


Have you just found out that you are at risk for anaphylaxis? Get the Facts
  • Seek the advice of a qualified allergist. To find one in your area, contact your provincial medical association.
  • Consult with your allergist if you have questions about your allergies. Don't self-diagnose or rely on anecdotal information.
Keep Anxieties at Bay
  • It's natural to feel sad or anxious. Let yourself go through this process, but keep your anxieties in check so that you or your child can live normally. Talk to other adults about your worst fears.
  • Recognize that all those 'what if' questions are a call for you to get more information.
  • Rely on credible resources for information. If you're feeling anxious, stay off chat rooms, which are frequented by lay people and are often unmoderated. Consult with your allergist if you have concerns.
  • Join a local support group that is recognized by your allergist.
Own the Condition
  • The more you know about your allergy, the more you will be in the driving seat and able to take charge. This means following the advice of your allergist and sticking to key rules.
  • Be realistic about what others will do for you. While most people will try their best to accommodate your needs, they cannot be expected to have the same level of understanding about your allergies.
  • Teach your child how to stay safe.
  • Recognize that there is no such thing as 'allergen free', e.g. 'peanut free'. There will always be some element of risk, but this can be managed.
Learn for Yourself
  • Participate in a session geared to the newly diagnosed. Contact Anaphylaxis Canada for more information.
  • Attend educational events hosted by Anaphylaxis Canada and other credible organizations.
  • Read the Anaphylaxis Canada newsletters.
Get to Know Manufacturers & Foodservice Operators
  • Learn to read food labels. There are alternate names for allergens. Check ingredients carefully, each and every time.
  • Purchase allergen cards from Anaphylaxis Canada. Give the cards to others who may purchase food for you or your child.
  • Talk to the chef or manager at restaurants. Avoid peak hours when staff are busy.
  • See tips for checking out manufacturers.
Stick to Key Rules
  • No epinephrine auto-injector = No Food, period.
  • Carry epinephrine auto-injector with you at all times, ideally two.
  • Wear MedicAlert identification.
  • Follow the emergency plan outlined by your allergist.
  • Make sure friends, relatives and caregivers know your emergency plan.
  • Learn how to give the epinephrine auto-injector using the epinephrine auto-injector trainer. Teach others as well.
  • Keep medical records up to date.
  • Replace epinephrine auto-injector before they expire.
Share Your Experience with Others
  • Nobody has all the answers. Pass on tips to other anaphylactic individuals and families.
  • Submit a story for the Anaphylaxis Canada website or newsletter.
  • Use your skills as a volunteer, helping to raise awareness about anaphylaxis.
"Your child has anaphylaxis�an allergy which has the potential to be fatal."

As I tried to understand the implications of the allergist's words, tears welled up in my eyes, as images of my son's entire life flashed by. (He was 3 � at the time.) What will he eat? How can we keep him safe in school or at a friend's? Will he be able to go to camp? And what about university? How am I ever going to trust anyone? The fact that a lowly peanut could pose such a threat to my son seemed mind-boggling.

Over the next few months, as I worked through my anxiety, I slowly came to realize that I had focused on the wrong word. Anaphylaxis has the potential to be fatal�it does not mean that it will be fatal. It can be managed.

While anaphylaxis has taken the spontaneity out of many things that my son does, it has not defined him. He is a keen learner, an aspiring athlete, a nature-lover, a musician, and a brother who taunts his younger sister; he is a kid, like any other, who just happens to have a life-threatening allergy. Over the years, we've learned to work in a positive way to teach others how to manage and we continue to reinforce key rules with our son so that he learns how to stay safe. So far, our strategy is working.

There are still days when I have a meltdown, or he struggles to cope with what may be a life-long condition. We let ourselves feel sad�then we get on with life. We realize that there will always be some level of risk, but we've learned to discern what is perceived vs. real risk, so we don't drive ourselves crazy worrying about what may never happen.

Diagnosis was just the first step in this long journey. Along the way, we've joined the path of many others who are living normally with life-threatening allergies. We hope you'll find your way, too.

Prepared by Laurie (Laurie's son, 8 years old in 2002, is allergic to peanut, tree nuts, shrimp, chick peas, split peas and soy.)

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Last date modified on Friday, April 7, 2006

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