Family Matters: Campaign offers advice to students with allergies

University student Helen, star of a YouTube film on coping with anaphylaxis at university, and friends
University student Helen, star of a YouTube film on coping with anaphylaxis at university, and friends
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As students head off to start university this month, the Anaphylaxis Campaign has released a short film looking at the effects of student life on severe allergy sufferers.

The five-minute film on YouTube features Helen, a student in her final year talking about her experiences of attending university while managing her severe nut allergy.

She aims to prove that while scary, it can be done.

“Going to uni is one of those things that you look forward to with nervous anticipation for so long,” Helen said.

“Living away from home, going to lectures, being truly independent for the first time – these are all things that worry you and make you feel quite anxious at first.

“Managing severe allergy on your own for the first time, too, just adds an extra layer of complication to things.”

And it’s arguable that she was right to be worried.

“Statistically, teenagers and young adults are the most at risk of all the groups affected by anaphylaxis,” says Anaphylaxis Campaign helpline manager, Moira Austin.

“It’s a time when risk-taking behaviours like drinking, newly-found independence, first-time and unfamiliar experiences and rebellious behaviours like not carrying medication all come together, creating a perfect storm in terms of anaphylaxis risk.”

Last year, the Anaphylaxis Campaign commissioned a survey of more than 500 young people aged 15 to 25.

It found that more than one third of those asked didn’t always carry their life-saving adrenaline – the only effective emergency treatment for anaphylaxis.

And an overwhelming majority – 72 per cent – were also not receiving any kind of expert medical care or advice.

This year already there have been several high-profile global cases of deaths from anaphylaxis in this crucial age group, says the campaign.

“We want to bridge gaps in knowledge and remove unnecessary risk factors through our information and advice for young people, the latest of which is this short film” said Lynne Regent, chief executive of the campaign.

“We really would urge people to check it out to prepare themselves before starting a new college or university.”

The film is available on the Anaphylaxis Campaign’s YouTube Channel,, and also on the campaign website,