Waking up the day of high school graduation is typically a gift from the gods; a chance to leave the confines of an underage life with parents. For those with food allergies though, it’s just another day of heightened awareness. One misstep at the party buffet and the night is ruined with hives, sneezing or anaphylactic shock.
Going to college is a difficult tradition in and of itself. In addition to a life- threatening condition like food allergies, teens and young adults are at the highest risk of death because of vehicle accidents, drug overdose, and alcohol intoxication.
Chelsey Heath, a freshman at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, has an anaphylactic peanut allergy. She feels many young adults with food allergies do not practice healthy behaviors.
The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network said, “A study showed that teens with food allergy and asthma appear to be at the highest risk for a reaction, because they are more likely to take risks when away from home, are less likely to carry medications, and may ignore or not recognize symptoms."
The inability to accurately assess risk is one reason many college students with food allergies disassociate themselves from behaviors that may prevent an allergic reaction. Some students may find healthy, safe options difficult to find on campus; others may feel they’re invincible to reactions.
“I’m a very type-A person, but the average student who goes and gets drunk could be in real danger. How many people would be able and willing to help them if they went into anaphylactic shock?” said Heath.
Anaphylactic shock, the most detrimental of reactions, is categorized by a change in blood pressure, swelling of the esophagus and difficulty breathing. Symptoms may also include hives, swollen lips and change in skin tone. All reactions within the anaphylaxis range are deadly and must be treated immediately.
Studies indicate those with food allergies are likely to struggle with more than one food allergy and a culmination of other allergies; including medicines, animal danders and pollen.