While almonds are a sweet treat for many, one taste could kill Kate Chapman.
The 31-year-old has an allergy to almonds and could suffer a life-threatening reaction, known as anaphylactic shock.
She said: “I was only diagnosed at 21 and before that I was absolutely fine and could eat them. After 21, my stomach was really swollen and hard when I ate them. The doctor told me it was an allergy and I had to think about what I ate.”
Kate, of Euxton, had an allergy test which found she was allergic to almonds. Now, she has to be very careful to avoid the nuts. “My stomach swells up and everything swells up and I stop breathing,” she said. “I carry epipens, and someone has to administer the epipen and I have seven minutes for the ambulance to arrive.”
Kate has to pay attention to the foods she eats and even the toiletries she uses in case they contain almonds.
She said: “It’s quite hard if I go for meals because I have to tell them. If I’m on an aeroplane, I have to tell a steward that no-one can have almonds. They make an announcement on the plane for no-one to eat them, because opening a bag of almonds on the plane could make me have a reaction.
“It’s in some body creams, shampoo and conditioners, hand cream, lots of things.”
And she has to be especially careful when she travels abroad. “I have a list of the word ‘almond’ in all different languages, so I know what to look for in different countries when I’m travelling,” she said. Kate has had two serious anaphylactic reactions since she was diagnosed with the allergy 10 years ago. On one occasion, she collapsed in the street and several people walked past before someone stopped to help.
But she generally manages to avoid almonds, after becoming more aware of foods and other products containing them. She has also been supported by the Anaphylaxis Campaign, which celebrate its 20th anniversary this year.
Kate, a lecturer in performing arts at Runshaw College, said: “They gave me a medic alert bracelet which I always have on my wrist. If an ambulance is called, they look at it to see what my allergy is. The Anaphylaxis Campaign sends out alerts with products saying they have almonds in, which is a warning. It’s really good.”
For more information go to www.anaphylaxis.org.uk.