An allergy is an invisible condition with potentially fatal consequences. One in four of us suffer from allergies, according to the NHS. Yet, would you be able to tell if you or your loved one was experiencing symptoms that could lead to life-threatening allergic reaction?
Yesterday, the grieving parents of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse told how their daughter died after having an allergic reaction to a Pret baguette while on an aeroplane.
Natasha, a schoolgirl from Fulham, London, ate an artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette during a British Airways flight from London Heathrow to Nice. However, she never completed her journey, as she collapsed and suffered a fatal allergic reaction.
It is believed sesame seeds – which she was allergic to – were baked into the bread, rather than being visible on the baguette’s crust.
A Pret spokesman told The Telegraph: “We were deeply saddened to hear about Natasha’s tragic death, and our heartfelt thoughts are with her family and friends. We take food allergies and how allergen information is provided to our customers extremely seriously. We will to do all we can to assist the inquest.”
A severe allergic reaction, also known as anaphylaxis, usually develops within minutes of exposure to the allergen, but can sometimes occur after an hour or more, according to Allergy UK.
Anaphylaxis differs from less severe allergic reactions because it affects the whole body, rather than being localised to a specific body part.
Dr Andrew Thornber, Chief Medical Officer at Now Patient, talked Yahoo Style UK through the signs of a fatal allergic reaction that you should look out for.
Fatal allergic reaction signs: Dizziness or collapsing
“Usually when someone starts to get dizzy, collapses or in severe cases goes unconscious, it can indicate an anaphylactic shock, which can be life-threatening. This is when your immune system releases a load of chemicals which send your body into shock.”
Fatal allergic reaction signs: Stomach cramps
“If you start to suffer with stomach cramps or vomiting after a sting, it’s worth getting medical attention asap, as it usually a sign the sting is having a negative impact on the body and could potentially send the body into shock.”
Fatal allergic reaction signs: Swollen tongue
“This happens when there is swollen tissue damage, trauma or Angioedema (swelling under the skin) usually when a person has an allergic reaction to a medicine or food,” says Dr Thornber.
“It is more often not serious and should subside, but in some more severe cases it continues to swell and can affect breathing and become a medical emergency.”
Fatal allergic reaction signs: Difficulty swallowing or speaking
“The allergic inflammation can lead to stiffening or narrowing of the oesophagus, which can lead to difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) or food getting stuck in the oesophagus.”
Fatal allergic reaction signs: Problems with breathing or asthma
“Difficulty breathing is due to swelling and/or spasm in the airways (which can include swelling of the tongue or the large and small parts of the airways),” says Dr. Thornber.
“Also, many people with asthma find it is made worse by certain allergies. The air tubes ins the lungs usually narrow and there is tightening of the muscles surrounding the airway, inflammation and swelling of the airway lining and production of thick sticky mucus within the airway.”
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