Alexis Manning has a peanut allergy.
"I first found out that I was allergic to peanuts as a child. Some sweets just tasted bad and made my lips swell a bit, and it didn't take long to work out the cause. I didn't have testing at the time because peanut allergies weren't very common, and it didn't seemtoo severe. I avoided peanuts, but the reactions got worse.
"I had my first anaphylactic reaction when I was 18, while eating a salad that contained things that looked like baked beans, but were actually peanuts. I ate one of these the most peanut I'd ever had at one time, I think and immediately knew something was very wrong. Within minutes, my face swelled up. My skin felt tight, I couldn't close my eyes, I couldn't hear properly and, worst of all, I couldn't breathe.
"I was lucky that the nearest hospital was only 10 minutes away. After they gave me several injections of adrenaline, medical staff were able to bring my reaction under control. I was given some EpiPens and sent on my way.
"Since then, I've been exceptionally careful about what I eat. Food labelling has improved markedly in recent years, but many foods still seem to have 'may contain' warnings that seem unlikely. For example, I've seen fish, red cabbage and sour cream all marked with 'may contain peanuts'.
"I also make sure I carry a couple of EpiPens with me at all times, but have never had to use them because I'm very, very careful. It can be socially awkward. I've had to give up eating out after being caught out on more than one occasion at restaurants where the language barrier was an issue. Also, I find it generally less stressful if I simply don't eat anything I haven't prepared myself. People who know me accept this, but others find it a bit odd if everyone's sitting down to a meal and I'm there with an empty plate not eating.
"I consider myself lucky, odd though it might sound. Some people experience anaphylactic reactions early in childhood, but I only had to deal with it when I was old enough to look after myself. I have a lot of sympathy for parents who have to manage young children with severe food allergies.
"My advice for people newly diagnosed with a peanut allergy is not to panic. Initially, it seems like you can't eat anything, but food labelling has improved massively over the last few years, so being vigilant has become easier."
A food allergy is when the body's immune system reacts unusually to specific foods. Allergic reactions are often mild, but they can sometimes be very serious.
Symptoms of a food allergy include a raised, itchy red rash, swelling of the face, eyes, lips and tongue, and shortness of breath.
A food allergy is caused when your immune system mistakenly treats harmless proteins found in certain foods as a threat. It releases a number of chemicals, which then triggers an allergic reaction.
If you think you or your child has a food allergy, make an appointment with your GP.
The advice here is primarily written for parents of a child with a food allergy. However, most of it is also relevant if you're an adult with a food allergy.
Once you have been diagnosed as having a food allergy, you will receive advice about antihistamines, adrenaline and using an auto-injector.
Alexis Manning has a peanut allergy. She first found out that she was allergic to peanuts as a child. Some sweets just tasted bad and made her lips swell a bit, and it didn't take long to work out the cause.