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Journalist opens up about daily struggles with life threatening allergies

download (37)A journalist has shared her daily struggle to cope with life threatening allergies to mark World Allergy Week.

Catriona Aitken, who writes for the Basingstoke Gazette, shared a first person piece about her serious allergies to nuts, beans and seeds.

She also has other food intolerances, hayfever and animal allergies.

Catriona, left, wrote about how it began at the age of just 18 months when she picked up half a peanut off the floor at a wedding.

She said: “My lips turned blue and I fell into a deep sleep. My parents took me to hospital and it was thought likely that I had anaphylaxis. I have carried two epipens ever since.”

Catriona said she felt lucky that she’s never had a severe, life-threatening reaction since her diagnosis but that there are other problems that come with it.

She added: “What I do experience is the anxiety and fear which comes with having an allergy, which I think is an element of the condition often overlooked.

“When you think of a typical ‘fussy eater’, you may think of someone who is spoiled, or unwilling to try new things. What you may not think of is a person for whom food can cause real worry.

“I remember as a child feeling left out because I wasn’t allowed to have school dinners with my friends, because the kitchen didn’t want to risk giving me something I couldn’t have. 

“I remember being on holiday in France with my family, and every restaurant cooking with peanut oil. I ate a lot of bread and cheese that week! And later, at university, I remember going into a restaurant with a friend and sitting down, only to be asked to leave when the waiter came to take our order because ‘we can’t cater for allergies’.”

When Catriona was a teenager she started a fundraising and awareness campaign for a charity called The Anaphylaxis Campaign.

In the piece, she notes that times have changed and that waiters and waitresses now often ask about allergies at the start of the service and that there are dedicated allergy menus and lists of ingredients.

She added: “The risk and fear never fully goes away. Just a couple of months ago I experienced an allergic reaction when eating out with friends at a new place. 

“So when someone says they have an allergy, please always take them seriously. The joy of food should be for everyone, and you might just save their life.”