Managing anaphylaxis in teens and adolescents

Helping teens with anaphylaxis live a normal life

Teen years are tough enough, even without the threat of anaphylaxis – so many changes and challenges to deal with, especially on the school and relationship fronts.

We have new freedom and independence. It’s also a time when we want to try new things, and it’s not unusual for adolescents to take more risks. While there may be things you want to try, it’s important to remember that the threat of anaphylaxis is real. Peer pressure can be very powerful, so it is critical that your friends, and friends of friends understand the seriousness of a severe allergic reaction.

Nobody likes to stand out or be seen as ‘different’ from the group as a teenager. But with the increasing incidence of anaphylaxis in the community, chances are you’re not the only one. Being prepared to prevent an anaphylactic reaction needn’t be too intrusive in your life – but there’s a few simple things to remember:

Important things to remember

  • Always have an EpiPen® close by and know how to use it – better still, train your BFF to help.
  • Make sure you and others around you know your triggers and symptoms to watch out for.
  • Don’t feel embarrassed about being selective with foods that threaten you – teenagers are well known for going through phases of fussiness, dietary and ideology changes as they take control of their lives. So, you won’t be seen as ‘weird’.
  • Speak up at restaurants or at your friend’s house to whoever is preparing your food. Hidden ingredients and cross-contamination are risks when dining out, so be sure to clearly explain your allergies to a restaurant waiter, server or a friend’s parent.
  • You’re on the way to adulthood, so it’s time to show who’s in control – your life is literally in your hands.
  • Don’t share food or drinks unless you know what’s in them – a drink may have been contaminated with something your friend has eaten.
  • For the same reason, don’t share eating utensils.
  • If you’re on school camp or attending an event like a music festival, make sure people are aware of your potential allergic reactions. This is especially important because you may be a few hours from emergency/hospital services.