For advice on severe allergies, visit the Anaphylaxis Campaign website www.anaphylaxis.org.uk/living-with-anaphylaxis/young-people or drop us a line info@anaphylaxis.org.uk / 01252 542029 /@ACOutthere/@Anaphylaxiscoms

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Be Festival Ready with this simple Festival Allergy Guide

With festival season just around the corner we thought we’d get you in the mood with an easy guide to managing your allergy while enjoying the music, fun and (hopefully) sun.

Whilst there’s no reason why having a severe allergy should stop you donning your wellies and rain coat and getting stuck in to festival season it is important to remember to take care while you’re out there.

Before you go
Festivals often have security measures in place to make sure nothing dangerous or unusual is bought onto the site. Think of it like going on holiday, take a note from your GP explaining exactly why you need to carry your adrenaline auto-injector and what it does, just in case anyone thinks it could be something much more untoward.

Ensure you have somewhere cool to keep your AAIs just in case you get warm weather – keeping your pen with you in your tent at night or pocket during the day may cause 
it to overheat, which could reduce the effectiveness of the adrenaline. You can purchase special bags to keep your AAIs cool at http://www.medpac.co.uk/

Ensure it is in date before you leave. An out-of-date pen could also be much less effective.

When you get there
Scan the area and keep in mind where the nearest medical tens are and be aware of them in relation to your location whenever possible.

It may also be worth taking a trip down to your nearest medical or staff tent to your campsite and introduce yourself, explaining your condition and medication. This ensures people are aware of your allergy and know how to treat you, should anything happen.

Medication
Always carry two of your prescribed adrenaline auto-injectors (Emerade, EpiPen or Jext) at all times. 

Try not to leave them in your tent, carry it around with you at all times. There are many cool carriers and cases that allow you to clip it on to belt loops, clothing or keep it safe in bags. It may sound extreme but some type of AAIs need protecting from extreme temperature. Check with your GP or the brands website to find out about yours.

Allergy blogger, Leo, just sticks with the old favourite. “Bring a backpack - it can be a pain carrying adrenaline around with you at a festival, but I found that the best way that it could be managed was to carry a backpack, which means you can also carry your antihistamines, food, water, money and all the other essentials too.”

Keep your friends in the know
Make sure the people you’re going with known about your allergy and how serious it can be. This way they’ll know to be careful and can help you better should anything happen.

Festivals are extremely busy places and getting lost and separated is a possibility. Preparing for this is all about thinking ahead. The best thing you can do is to wear a medical alert bracelet or jewellery that display your allergy and treatment (http://www.medicalert.org.uk/), you can also carry a card with you in your pocket or wallet that lets even people you don’t know understand if you need help.  

It can also be helpful to write down emergency contacts; one at the festival with you and one at home, who can help you.   

Eating
Finding something to eat at a festival can be tricky if you have a food allergy but there are things you can do to help prevent an accidental reaction. You can contact the festival’s organisers beforehand and see if they can provide you with a list of food suppliers who will be there on the day, that way you can scope out if there’s something good (and safe) to eat when you’re there.

Don’t be afraid of asking them what’s in their food – the new Food Information Regulation means they must know if any of the top 14 allergens are present in their food. If you’re ever in doubt just go find somewhere else.

Alternatively, you can take your own food. Bear in mind if you’re camping over the weekend it should be food that won’t go nasty quickly. Instant noodles, sandwiches, personal safe snacks like crisps and fresh fruit (depending on what you’re allergic to) are all good foods to take with you.

If there is a town nearby to the festival you can try heading away from the crowds and popping to fast food stores you know are safe or to supermarkets where the range may not be quite as restrictive for you.

In case of emergency
If you think you’re having a reaction follow these tips:

Stay calm and stay with friends – do not go off on your own, stay with people that can help you
Get a friend to look for a member of the festival staff – stewards or security would be best, but this could also be programme sellers or bar staff – as they are likely to have a walkie talkie on them to contact the medical tent or will have good knowledge of the site and how best to get medical attention.

If you’re feeling dizzy or faint stay where you are and lie down, try to elevate your legs if possible.
Don’t be afraid to use your adrenaline. Using it, even if not needed, is unlikely to cause any problems. As adrenaline is a natural hormone present in your body i.e. from nerves, exertion, or excitement, your body can process with little risk involved.

Always call 999 and seek medical help after using your injector.

General festival tips
Pack baby wipes and antibacterial gel – these can help if you can’t find a sink or shower

Don’t eat or drink anything if you don’t know where it came from, or what’s in it – this is a good idea no matter where you are

Make plans for where to meet friends if you get separated and always carry your mobile phone in case of an emergency.

Invest in a backup battery pack if your phone is infamous for having a short battery life

Although we do not condone the taking of recreational drugs please bear in mind that drugs (and alcohol) can make you more likely to take risks and can make a reaction much more severe.


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