UAE urges awareness fatal nut allergy after a mother shares horror story

Omar Abbas - | Mix

Since he was a baby, Sajitha Hyder's son Daniyal has experienced numerous allergies.

But it wasn't until last week that the gravity of his illness really dawned on him. After the 11-year-old unintentionally consumed peanuts, he suffered a potentially fatal allergic reaction known as anaphylactic shock.

A Scary Experience

"We had ordered chili chicken from a new Chinese restaurant for lunch," explained Sajitha, who resides in Abu Dhabi. Initially, Daniel seemed fine after the meal. He attended an online class and played outside without any apparent issues. However, upon returning, he complained about his asthma acting up. "He used his inhaler, but I noticed he was turning red," Sajitha recalled. Fortunately, Sajitha’s sister arrived just as Daniyal's condition worsened. Sajitha stated, "My sister, who has kids with serious allergies, insisted we take him to the hospital right away." On their way to the emergency room, Daniyal's breathing became increasingly labored. Her brother-in-law quickly administered an EpiPen, a device that delivers a dose of epinephrine to counteract severe allergic reactions.

By the time they reached the hospital, Daniyal’s situation was dire. "The hospital staff told us that the EpiPen saved his life," Sajitha said. This frightening episode was a stark reminder for the family to remain vigilant about Daniyal's allergies, despite him outgrowing some, like those to gluten and milk. Daniyal’s case is not isolated. Many individuals suffer from severe nut allergies, risking life-threatening reactions. Recently, Love Island star Jack Fowler experienced a severe allergic reaction after consuming cashews in a curry during an Emirates flight, highlighting the widespread nature of this issue.

In order to prevent exposure and guarantee safety, experts stress the need for a comprehensive strategy for people with nut allergies. Since they can cause serious allergic responses, peanuts, even though they are technically legumes, are one of the eight food groups that need to be clearly labeled. The family medicine specialist at Burjeel Day Surgery Centre in Al Dhahir, Dr. Sabah Omer Elkhalifa, emphasizes the need for identifying allergy symptoms and taking prompt action. Her advice was to "manage your condition by recognizing symptoms and carrying an epinephrine injector to treat anaphylaxis immediately" if you have a serious nut allergy.

Eating out can pose significant challenges for individuals with severe allergies. Sajitha shared her experiences of dining out, where misinformation and lack of awareness among restaurant staff can lead to dangerous situations. In one instance, a waiter mistakenly assured them a dessert was nut-free, only for Sajitha to find it contained Nutella, which is made from hazelnuts. On another occasion, a chef went out of his way to ensure a dish was allergen-free, highlighting the inconsistency in restaurant practices.

Expert Recommendations

Neeta Jhaveri, a functional medicine practitioner and health coach at Wellth, advises individuals with severe allergies to exercise extreme caution when eating out. “They must carefully read food labels and ask questions regarding ingredients and cooking techniques.,” she said. Jhaveri also recommends preparing meals at home using fresh, uncontaminated ingredients and keeping separate utensils for allergenic and non-allergenic foods.

Managing severe allergies extends beyond avoiding specific foods. Neeta Jhaveri points out additional challenges such as financial burdens, social exclusion, nutritional concerns, and difficulties in schools and workplaces. “Strict avoidance of allergens and preparedness for accidental exposures are crucial,” she noted. For families like Sajitha’s, constant vigilance is essential to prevent potentially fatal incidents.

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Omar Abbas
Omar Abbas
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