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Allergies and Aircrafts: The Real Dangers of Flying

Living with severe food allergies day to day can be extremely stressful for suffers, but what if you had no control over the offending food source coming into close contact with you at 35,000 feet?

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Nuts are an extremely common airplane snack, but millions of people around the world are seriously allergic to nuts, and could go into anaphylactic shock if they come into contact with them. So what should suffers do? Stop travelling by airplane altogether? Demand help from airlines to protect their health?

This has become a hotly debated topic over the last few years, with some people being ‘banned’ from flights after informing airline staff of their allergy. Furthermore, a minority of travellers are petitioning for nut allergy sufferers to be banned from flying altogether.

Some airlines try to accommodate suffers by creating ‘buffer zones’, which basically means they ask people sitting near the sufferer not to eat nuts. However other airlines refuse to let suffers travel as they cannot guarantee their safety, and so offer them a refund of their ticket.

Now one Mum has decided to petition the unfair and unsafe treatment of nut allergy sufferers, by starting a website and demanding ‘nut free’ areas on planes of at least three rows in front, next to and behind of the sufferer. She started her website after her family were forced to miss a flight, because cabin crew refused to make an announcement about her son’s life threatening peanut allergy.

Reactions to contact with food allergens can vary depending on the seriousness of the allergy and the type of contact. For example, touching the food source could cause a serious and uncomfortable rash, but ingesting the allergen could cause life threatening anaphylactic shock.

Anyone with a food allergy is advised to check with their airline when booking and boarding the plane, to ensure they are aware of their condition. Travellers should also ensure they have plenty of medication such as an EpiPen just in case, and to check with their doctor if they are worried about flying.

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