BE AWARE: Charles Eldridge (left), who suffers from allergies, with his dad Tim.
BE AWARE: Charles Eldridge (left), who suffers from allergies, with his dad Tim. Geoff Potter

Allergic responses call for constant vigilance

PARENTING is a 24-hour-a-day seven-day-a-week occupation but for Sunshine Beach's Tim Eldridge and his wife Ann it means living in a constant state of hyper-vigilance.

Their 12-year-old son Charles lives with several food allergies and intolerances and is in danger of going into anaphylactic shock.

A recent survey of more than 1000 parents by Medibank 24/7 Health Advice Line found that 41% of Queensland parents would not know what to do if their child suffered an allergic reaction and 34% would not know how to identify telltale signs.

Mr Eldridge, who became a de-facto campaigner for food allergy awareness as a result of managing his son's condition, said he believed the study overestimated people's awareness.

While living in New York he worked with public schools to develop a response protocol for when a child suffers an allergic response.

He urged parents to be aware of the needs of children with allergies and to be prepared to respond in the case of a reaction.

"My son has had two (anaphylactic reactions), the first when he was three or four and both involved going to hospital," he said.

"The first happened when he ate a pistachio which had fallen into a dollhouse.

"He was very little and playing with friends and he picked up a stray pistachio."

Charles is allergic to all shellfish and several nuts and legumes.

Pauline O'Sullivan, along with fellow Coast mum Michelle Kazukaitis, established the Allergy Menu, a service aimed at providing recipes for parents with children with food allergies.

"My daughter (Manny, 12) has multiple intolerances but thankfully I've never had to deal with an anaphylactic reaction," she said.

"Accidents can happen and mistakes are made. It's a constant worry.

"For the families who have to deal with it, it really is a situation you are living with all the time. You have to be hyper-vigilant all the time."