Advice required regarding contamination

Posted on: Thu, 04/12/2007 - 10:21am
londonolly's picture
Joined: 04/12/2007 - 09:00

Apologies to anybody who has already read this - in my confusion/general incompetence I posted on the wrong board. To anybody who has not yet read this post a big hello - my name is Olly, and i'm from London like my username suggests! The reason for my posting, is that like many other forum users I am overwhelmed and anxious. However unlike many others who seem to be concerned about the health of their children, it is my own health that concerns me. I have just spent 15 months in hospital with an unrelated lung condition, and prior to this I was the primary carer of both of my sick parents (one of whom is disabled). Upon release, I now suffer from a state of perpetual anxiety regarding my diet, and the possible contamination of foods. I haved suffered many serious reactions to peanuts in the past, but now I am 22 I have to admit I know very little about the allegy, particularly cross contamination. I would appreciate it if anybody could enlighten me, and perhaps allieviate some of my worries - I particularly worry about physical contact with people who eat nuts. I give you an example - I was in a book shop two days ago, and upon being presented with my change I noticed the cashier was eating roasted peanuts. Not only did I refuse my change, I also disposed of the book I purchased. I feel this was an overreaction, but with my current health being so poor, and my responsibilities being so great, these factors played a great part in my actions. As mentioned I would be greatful to anybody reading who could advise me. Thanks, Olly

Posted on: Thu, 04/12/2007 - 1:57pm
sillyfeline's picture
Joined: 03/28/2001 - 09:00

Some people can have reactions from touching peanuts, some from the little bit inhaled in the air, some have both, and some have no reaction unless they eat them. It depends on the person. Personally, I have had airborne reactions to peanuts, eggs, and soy, but never from touch (and soy is in almost every soap & lotion as a vitamin E source, so I can't imagine I haven't been exposed via handshakes or subway poles). I wish there were a more concrete answer.

Posted on: Fri, 04/13/2007 - 12:54am
jtolpin's picture
Joined: 05/28/2003 - 09:00

The term is called 'Comfort Zone'.
Everyone has one that is different.
Some people would think you not taking the change is an OK thing to do (and safe).
Some would say that is paranoid.
Basically, you do what YOU think is the right thing to do.
Eventually, you grow into trusting a bit more. Maybe at SOME point, you'd feel comfortable taking change in that situation.
Anyhow, just wanted to mention that, and welcome!
[b]* Beyond Obsessed * [/b]

Posted on: Fri, 04/13/2007 - 1:31am
Corvallis Mom's picture
Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

Hopefully another user from your general neck of the woods will see your post. Her name is 'williamsmummy'... Many of us here are yanks and Canadians. But she should be able to provide you with a lot more insight into labeling and specific branding for the UK.
She is also active in one of the major anaphylaxis advocacy groups in the UK-- so she would be a wonderful source of support for you and be able to direct you toward resources which are available locally. NHS unfortunately does not, ahem, seem to be one of these 'major resources.' Sad to say.
There are also quite a few members who post from the UK that are about your age, as I recall. Sidni? Is Starlight in the UK? Gwen Thornberry I haven't seen post in a long time, but she was a very nice young woman in Ireland.
Again, welcome! Good for you for taking the initiative to take better care of yourself. Being a caregiver means having to do that.

Posted on: Fri, 04/13/2007 - 8:52am
McCobbre's picture
Joined: 04/16/2005 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by jtolpin:
The term is called 'Comfort Zone'.
Everyone has one that is different.
Some people would think you not taking the change is an OK thing to do (and safe).
Some would say that is paranoid.
Basically, you do what YOU think is the right thing to do.
Eventually, you grow into trusting a bit more. Maybe at SOME point, you'd feel comfortable taking change in that situation.
Anyhow, just wanted to mention that, and welcome!
OR--maybe at some point you'll feel more confident about your decision not to take your change and to toss your book.
I would not have wanted my PA son to have taken the change either.
And similiarly (kind of), the other night we were at his school book fair. He had been at a house with dogs first, and when he had seen me at school (I met him and DH there) he handed me a book. A few minutes later I had a welt on my face. After we brought the books home I wiped them down with a baby wipe (yes, they were paperbacks--I don't care) so that I'm not having to deal with dog dander all over our house every time he reads those books.
I'm not anaphylactic to dogs the way you are to peanuts.
I would not have taken the book with me, either, if I were you.
But it's a comfort zone thing, as Jason said, and you eventually find yours and become, well . . . comfortable with it. And it changes over time.
There are things we do now that I was too scared to do with DS when he was first diagnosed--and things I would never dream of doing now that we were too stupid to avoid then. This has been a good place to learn from and a supportive community. I'm glad you found it!

Posted on: Fri, 04/13/2007 - 10:49am
ajgauthier's picture
Joined: 04/13/2005 - 09:00

welcome Olly [img][/img]
I'm an adult with PA and I do react to traces left about on surfaces by those who are eating peanut or nut products (I am also allergic to some tree nuts). I get localized hives, and I pretty much know right away. Once or twice I've touched my face...and well...just a hive on my face but not too fun if out in public. For me, it doesn't result in all-over body hives, or trouble breathing, or other issues if I just touch the allergen. I do though, have much more severe reactions if I inhale peanut odor, like being on a plane with packets of peanuts being opened or sitting next to an office mate who is eating roasted peanuts.
Now of course...I don't walk around worried about everything I touch. I've lived with this allergy for over 30 years now, so I've developed a particular comfort zone and zen way of dealing with PA/TNA. Part of my comfort with everyday objects and such, is that I carry with me wet wipes (packaged moistened wipes) so I can clean any affected area or my hands before I eat anything, benadryl (diphenhydramine) gel and oral tablets, and of course my epipens (usually 3). Mind you, I haven't had a full-blown reaction (eating peanuts) in over 16 years now! But, every now and then...I have a contact reaction by touching a shopping cart, railing, or something. I just sort of roll my eyes ("oh, not again"), wash my hands (or wipe off wherever), apply benadryl gel/lotion and it stops the reaction. If it doesn't, I pop a benadryl tablet...though I've only had to do that once.
So --- I don't have severe reactions to surface allergens, but I am also very careful about not biting my nails and washing hands before I eat. So, it's rare an allergen would make it in my mouth by contact traces on my hands.
I live in a virtually peanut-free house (I have a roommate, and she understands and we have strict procedures for when she eats peanut products), my office is peanut/nut free (I share it with others, but they are all great), and my car is peanut free.
I have also run across the same scenario as you with the clerk eating peanuts. I've had it happen with roaste peanuts from a can the clerk was eating, and also once with Reese's Pieces. I did what you did, except I asked for a manager...gave the manager and clerk 'what for' about eating at the it can affect people like me who are allergic (what if I came around a few minutes later...then had a mystery reaction at home? That's actually happened before...but again, my skin reactions aren't severe...) I got 'clean change' and new products from the shelf and carried on my way. I think it's completely reasonble to refuse something that you clearly see touched peanuts/nuts.
Now is the tough part...where do you draw the line? The saying "what you don't know won't hurt you" doesn't really apply here...b/c it will hurt you. For me, since my skin reactions aren't severe and I can easily recognize and control them...I just don't worry about touching things or shared public items like movie rentals, library books, and magazines in salons.
I'm not sure what your skin contact reactions are like. Some don't have them at all, even though an ingestion of peanuts will send you into a horrible reaction. Some also don't have reactions to inhaled peanuts. I don't suggest at all you test this out! But, you'll need to figure it out so you know how to handle a skin contact reaction if it occurs, and how to recognize it.
Now - even with my ingestion reactions - I am very very cautious eating out...but I still do it. Why? Because I know how to recognize an accidental ingestion reaction...and further...I carry an arsenal of emergency medication with me so I know I'll be ok if I have an accidental reaction.
This is my comfort zone and how I've learned to live with the allergy. I don't take unnecessary chances, but I also don't live in a bubble. I also don't judge others with the allergy for how they live. I have a friend who epipens herself a few times a year...she just takes chances I wouldn't...that's her comfort zone. Some on here are much tighter with their comfy zone than me...calling manufacturers about labeling, never eating out, etc. And that's cool by me, it's how they are comfortable.
So --- you'll figure it out over time. By going through and reading old post threads you'll soon get a sense of the range of comfort zones and how people handle every day situations.
We have an Adults with PA thread on here, please introduce yourself and start a topic over there at anytime [img][/img] Adults with the allergy sometimes handle it differently or have different perspectives than the parents on here who post about their PA children, but I have learned a lot from them over the years! PA adults deal with some issues and situations the children don't: alcohol, bar settings, traveling for business, adult friends who 'don't get it', or more intimate issues of partners who still eat peanuts and how that can affect the PA person in embarrassing/intimate ways (I more thing to think about!)
OK - I've droned...this post is a mile long, but I hope you got something out of it.
[img][/img] Adrienne
30-something survivor of severe peanut/tree nut allergy

Posted on: Sat, 04/14/2007 - 12:41am
lex's picture
Joined: 09/03/2000 - 09:00

Hi Olly.
I agree with the other posters that everyone has their own comfort zone. I think most people would agree that there are aspects of this allergy that are not rational.
For example, at Christmas I pretty much stop eating fruit and veg because the supermarkets pile up nuts by those aisles and I can't stand going near them! That's not rational - that's purely phobia.
In the example you mentioned I would also have refused the change or the book from someone who was eating peanuts while serving me, although I'd probably feel a bit foolish about it.
The bottom line is that you have to do what makes you feel safe.
-- A.
[This message has been edited by lex (edited April 14, 2007).]

Posted on: Sat, 04/14/2007 - 1:56am
Momcat's picture
Joined: 03/15/2005 - 09:00

The first step to controlling your anxiety is to educate yourself about your allergy--you are already doing that! Learn what foods/ingredients to avoid.
Also, being prepared for an emergency will help calm you fears. Always have wet wipes, antihistamines, Epipens and a cell phone with you. Have your doctor help you make an anaphylaxis emergency plan. Write it down an keep it with you. Consider getting a Medic Alert bracelet. Having this safety net in place will help you feel more in control.
I hope this helps!
Mom to 7 yr old PA/TNA daughter and 4 yr old son who is allergic to eggs.

Posted on: Sat, 04/14/2007 - 9:09am
williamsmummy's picture
Joined: 03/26/2002 - 09:00

hello ,
One of the signs of an allergic person is the dry skin on there hands from the freqent hand washing!!! ( that and the ezcema!)
please feel free to e-mail me if you want to chat am in contact with a couple of nut allergic adults in my area who would be happy to hear from you if you want another adult with allergy support.
Do you have any other questions ?
Cross contamination is an issue, and its best to be cautious if your health is poor at this time.
You mentioned not really knowing much about allergies, what sort of thing do you need to know?
I am not a adult with allergy BTW , but have a son with quite a few allergies,
all beans
kiwi fruit
yeast extract ( so no bovril or marmite for us, and no peanut butter...........its just jam on toast in our home! although, saying that....sainsburys do a nut/dairy / soya free chocolate spread!)
where was I?.....................oh yes,
tree pollen
hay fever
mild ezcema now at 11 yrs.
I think thats is for now, new ones crop up and old ones get higher reacting or drop depending on his health , growth etc.
Nothing seems to stay still with my allergic son.
I am a contact support for allergy UK, and work part time , with the anaphylaxis campaign training as a youth workshop leader.
As well as being a member.
I sometimes arrange evening talks with medical guest speakers or give presentations myself to schools and colleges in my area.
A good book to buy is published by Gamlin, 'the complete guide to food intolerances and allergies' by Prof jonathan Brostoff
I have met this chap, he has retired now ,but he knows his stuff!
hope this helps
oh, and go to the allergy show this june, go to the anaphylaxis campaign stall, and ask for advice there.
Perhaps I will met you there?

Posted on: Fri, 04/20/2007 - 1:10pm
lauramacf's picture
Joined: 01/25/2007 - 09:00

My daughter has multiple food allergies and extremely sensitive skin. I use a lotion called Proteque on her hands and exposed skin when I want to be extra certain she will be protected from "unknowns" she could contact. If you can find Proteque or some other allergen barrier lotion, it could help you feel better about those accidental skin contacts. Now, I haven't applied peanut residue to her skin in order to test it, but I can say that she is wheat allergic and used to break out in hives when she played with play dough until we started using the lotion, so I know that it provides some protection from allergens. I think it was originally designed to help people with contact senstivities.

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