College – some students will be under 18 years old, and the parent will be still responsible for their child’s duty of care but over the age of 18 years old this will become the student’s responsibility.
Planning for your transition to college/university is vital. This is a time you now become independent and have control yourself over allergies, this may be daunting at first but with planning ahead this will make the process easier.
This is a time of independence and at times you feel uncertain about your food allergy, feel anxiety because added pressures of college/university (stress can increase your chance of a severe allergic reaction), feel isolated as you are new and new to the area, or you feel the new people you are with do not understand the impact of a severe food allergy. This is the time you need to find resources that can help you, as you are at a higher risk of having a severe reaction due to these circumstances.
- Look the college/university policy for allergies. Check every year.
- Ask for a talk if not had one recently about food allergies so other students can learn.
- What is the college/university bullying policy? Does this cover bullying, due to allergies?
- Who will be responsible for you to go to when need advice or have problems?
- Are the staff trained for allergic reactions and anaphylaxis?
- The college/university do not have extra pens, so register with a doctor immediately if living away from home. Find out where you nearest chemist is.
- Action plan and medical forms filled out. Renew every year Medically diagnosed care plan in place. Risk assessment forms
- That you are happy to liaise with college/university about your allergies.
- Ask for college/university menu.
- Find out if there are other students at the college/university that have food allergies, so you are not isolated.
- Policy on foods brought into your class or onsite.
- Policy of food if on campus accommodation, ask for a single room or a room with a kitchen that you can control cross contamination. Ask if you can share with a roommate that has the same allergy as you, if possible.
- If renting for yourself in private accommodation than think about safety of shared housing, and the possibility of having a self-contained flatlet.
- If you decided to share, then educate your housemates/flatmates about your allergies and maybe come up with some house rules.
- If in a shared accommodation, maybe getting your own fridge/mini fridge, so the foods in the fridge you know are safe and free from cross contamination. Speak to the college/university to see if they would provide you one before buying. If you decide to share a fridge then think about designated shelves and labelling foods.
- Register with the website of your pen so you get advance notice that your adrenaline auto-injector expiry date. See links below.
- Ask your home doctor before going to university if you can have extra pens, 2 with you always and extra at your residence. If sharing with other roommates, then makes sure they know where your adrenaline auto-injectors are always.
- Think about alcohol, alcohol can change our ability to decide, and you make take more chances that you would not do while sober. Also, some cocktails can contain tree nuts (nuts) and spirits can contains tree nuts (nuts) especially like almond. Tell your friends not to share your glass and ask what drink you want instead of just buying without your knowledge.
- Find out about local takeaways and restaurants, look online at their menus so you can be familiar when moving to the area, but always look before ordering and mention allergies on ordering at the time. Each takeaway will have different recipes and different styles of takeaways will use different ingredients. If going out for a meal, ask for the allergen menu if you still feel uncertain ask to speak to the chef. Always double check your order. Always book for a meal, if possible, at a restaurant so on the booking your allergies can be put on the booking and you can check if they cater for your allergies. Translation cards are helpful (see menu links below), also see Takeaway guide link below.
- If you are ordering via directly and using an online delivery service phone the takeaway/restaurant directly straight away after ordering.
- Look for local supermarkets, if allowed to order online to your accommodation, then register your allergies on the site e.g., Sainsburys allows you to put allergies on your profile and when ordering it will advise if clicked something that has allergen or traces but always look at online ingredients and label when delivered before eating, as information online, maybe not be updated. Also, on online shopping do not allow substitutions as the item may not be safe for you. See also Shopping Guide and Labelling and Allergens links below.
- Ask if you need anything from your home doctor to take with you.
- Take your repeat prescription part with you so when registering with a doctor they have all the medication you are on.
- Find out where is the nearest hospital.
- Think about contraception, for example condoms contain casein (milk) this could cause issues if allergic to milk.
- Wear medical identity jewellery e.g., necklace, bracelet, silicon alert bands, bag keyrings, keyrings.
- Have ICE (In Case Emergency) on your phone see photos below how to set up.
- Have a medic alert on your phone there are several free apps in your app store. See link below.
- Speak to the person who has been cooking in your household, which could be your parent/carer and ask for them to give you some recipes that are safe for you, this way you know to start with you have some trusted recipes.
- Talk to your new friends and room/housemates, tell them how your allergy affects you and what to do in an emergency.
- Download the adrenaline auto-injector app for your adrenaline pen from Google Store or Apple Store.
- Some medications e.g., beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs) e.g., ibuprofen, may interfere with the action of adrenaline auto-injector and worsen the allergic reaction.
- Be aware when kissing allergens can be transferred by salvia and can be present up to 2 hours after consuming even if teeth have been brushed.
- Make sure you are storing your adrenaline auto-injectors at the right temperature, especially in the hotter months. There are insulated bags that you can purchase to keep in a more ideal temperature. These bags will help with air and light exposure which will deteriorate the contents and will change the colour to brownish or pink colour instead of clear. Keep your adrenaline auto-injector away from direct heat.
- Smoking either yourself or people around you are smoking; people who have severe food allergies are more likely to have asthma and cigarette inhalation can cause your asthma to be worse and poorly controlled asthma could make your allergic reaction to be more severe.
- Eating at canteen tables or desks be aware of possible cross contamination from food residues or crumbs from previous students.
- If your course includes trips or work placement, see school trips list – link below.
- If your course includes placements abroad, see travel list and allergy translation cards (Click button below for shop coming soon)
- College/university canteen is it provided by the college/university or an outside catering company?
- Tables being cleaned in canteen and cross contamination.
- If you have asthma, make sure asthma review is up to date and have a care plan.
- Get a trainer pen, so you can teach your friends/roommates how to us your adrenaline -auto-injector, this can be done via your pen provider website for free (see menu links below)
- Although British Food Allergy Awareness does not endorse drugs and the view of BFAA it is illegal, it would be irresponsible not to mention as BFAA does realise this does happen. The substance that you take can influence the decisions you make; it can also hide or change your ability to recognise the symptoms of a severe reaction.
- If at a party, do not allow someone else to pour you a drink unless you trust them, this is because they might add extra into the drink without realising, or they have food traces on their hands that might go on your glass.
Speak Up For Allergies FSA
Advice for teenagers and young adults with a food allergy FSA
EAACI Guidelines on the effective transition of adolescents and young adults with allergy and asthma
Keeping children safe in education (2020) Statutory guidance for schools and colleges Government website
Prepacked for direct sale (PPDS) allergen labelling changes for schools, colleges and nurseries FSA
Getting medical care as a student NHS Website
Medical ID ICE Android Google App Store
Medical ID ICE Apple Google App Store
Keeping children safe in education Government Website
These lists are guidance only, and not fully extensive, people are advised that it is the responsibility of the individual when using this information.
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