A Lancashire woman who has had her life possibly saved on various occasions due to adrenalin-filled EpiPens, and said that she would rather risk managing any future severe allergic reaction in her own home due to her hospital experiences across the North West.
Since 2017, Anita Robertson has experienced severe allergies, including everyday foods such as onions and mushrooms, with reactions coming on suddenly, and on one occasion the paramedics were called out to help her after she strolled down the fabric softener aisle at an ASDA supermarket at Switch Island in Liverpool, where she’d inhaled the fragrances of the products.
Over the last four years, she’s been forced to use an EpiPen between 30 and 40 times due to the severity of her reactions, and also being hospitalised many times due to relentless vomiting, itching and rashes developing.
Her husband Kevin said he’s frequently seen her turn blue due to how low her oxygen level has become, but now both Kevin and Anita feel that she would be better off managing any severe reaction at home with just her EpiPen if something were to occur again due to old hospital problems they say they’ve had.
This has included doctors saying she’s no history of anaphylaxis, resulting in her EpiPen prescription being removed for seven months during the COVID 19 pandemic, and on another occasion, doctors reportedly said she might be allergic to adrenaline while in hospital despite taking the drug for several years.
It was in December 2019 that doctors at Salford Royal Hospital wrote to Southport Hospital saying Anita had no history of anaphylaxis and mast cell activation syndrome, a condition where a person might have repeated occurrences of the manifestations of anaphylaxis.
The letter, which LancsLive has a copy of, said the risk of a stroke was higher than the benefit of using an EpiPen as a consequence of the decision, this was despite Anita having at one point being rushed to A&E at Salford after suffering a suspected allergic reaction.
Instead, the letter said Anita had chronic spontaneous urticaria and angioedema.
When Anita tried to get a new EpiPen on January 2020 from her GP at Roe Lane Surgery in Southport, she was refused the prescription due to the letter, and it’s understood that Southport and Formby CCG, which runs Roe Lane, had been following clinical recommendations at the time.
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that needs to be treated immediately, and that if left untreated, could be life-threatening, and if you’ve had an anaphylactic reaction before, then you’re at greater risk of having another one.
Epinephrine is the most efficient treatment for anaphylaxis, and the shot should be given right away, and if you’ve had anaphylaxis before, you should carry at least two doses of epinephrine with you at all times.
Anaphylaxis occurs when you have an antibody, something that normally fights infection, that overreacts to something harmless like food, and it can develop over time, and some people are so sensitive that even the smell of the food can trigger a response – some people are also allergic to some preservatives in food.
Anaphylactic reactions normally start within minutes of contact with the trigger, but they can also occur an hour or more later, and this is sad when people have to live with this life-threatening sensitivity that’s hovering over them every day, and sometimes a person might not even realise they’re allergic until it’s too late, and of course, an EpiPen would have helped, and to refuse such medication is not only repugnant, but it also means that doctors don’t have any regard for their victims, and yes, I did say victim because by having no respect for their patients, they then make them into victims, especially if that victim then dies.
I am also a fellow sufferer, so I know what it’s like, and believe me, it’s no cakewalk and very terrifying, and the only way that I can describe it is that when it first comes on, it’s almost like a sense of doom, but it does also make you question why so many people are allergic to so many things these days.
The incidence of food sensitivities has increased over the preceding thirty years, especially in industrialised societies, and exactly how big the increase depends on the food and where the patient lives.
For example, there was a fivefold rise in peanut sensitivities in the United Kingdom between 1995 and 2016, and a study of 1,300 three-year-olds for the EATS Study at King’s College, London, suggested that 2.5 per cent now have peanut allergies.
Australia has the highest rate of confirmed food allergies, and one study found 9 per cent of Australian one-year-olds had an egg allergy, while 3 per cent were allergic to peanuts, but the rise of allergies isn’t just the result of society becoming more conscious of them and better at diagnosing them, it’s more thought that the increases in allergies are probably the sensitivity to foods and are probably environmental, and relevant to Western lifestyles.
And factors may include pollution, dietary shifts and less susceptibility to germs, which shape how our immune systems react.
Of course, there’s no single answer as to why the world is becoming more allergic to food, but science has some theories, and one of them is that improved sanitation is to blame, as children aren’t getting as many infections because parasitic infections, in particular, are usually fought by the same mechanisms involved in tackling allergies, and with fewer parasites to fight, the immune system turns against things that should be harmless.