2% of the population suffer from food allergy which is potentially fatal and sadly can strike at any age. As Tom told us in the survey Allergy UK conducted to find out how people with allergies and intolerances had coped with Christmas.
“I didn’t know I suffered from a food allergy until this Christmas when I had an allergic reaction to something in bread which landed me in the accident unit with my throat closing up and a stinging red rash all over my body. Looking at what I had eaten I realised that I had experienced a funny feeling in my throat before when I had eaten bread containing lupin flour but I didn’t realise what the symptoms of an allergic reaction were. I realise now that my throat had felt a little funny before and I think it had been increasing in severity each time I had eaten this particular type of bread and I didn”t know what was going on. I hope I can get an allergy test so that I can know for sure what is going on”
Hopefully Tom will be referred to see an allergy specialist and will get the help he needs.
For those suffering from food intolerance it is much more difficult to get help as they are often dismissed as “faddy” or even worse that their symptoms are “all in the mind”. Such lack of understanding adds to the distress of sufferers and with stress undoubtedly impacting on health, it can make their symptoms worse. As many as 45% of the population suffer from food intolerance which, whilst not life threatening can make all aspects of life very uncomfortable for sufferers.
There are so few services or understanding for people with food intolerance that people are often driven to seek help from unqualified practitioners which can lead to unbalanced diets with the result that the sufferer”s health is made worse.
Allergy UK has seen an increasing number of people turning to us for help in understanding and managing food problems particularly food intolerance.
Kim from Wakefield was typical of the sort of comments we hear when she told us:
“It is much easier to stay at home rather than keep explaining and being treated as if you are following a fad or are a freak. Thanks for this survey it may help others to understand and stop treating us as if we are just being difficult”.
Yet it is not all bad news. Recognising the need of sufferers Allergy UK has established a specific division to help people with food intolerance. The division to be known as FIA (Food Intolerance Awareness) will provide information, advice and support and with its panel of experts in the field of food intolerance will be able to give specialist time and attention to sufferers.
A new website specifically for food intolerance will be launched during Food Allergy and Intolerance Week www.foodintoleranceawareness.org which will be packed full of useful information including details of specialist food products, places to eat where the management is sympathetic to the needs of sufferers, recipes and other helpful information.