Allergy anxieties in teenagers and young adults

Many teenagers and young adults lack confidence in managing their allergies and find it difficult to speak up for themselves for fear of embarrassment, in restaurants, for example. For others, the anxiety about having a serious reaction leads them to avoid social situations when they don’t need to. Some restrict their food beyond what is healthy, affecting their weight and health, and some with allergy to insect stings avoid all outdoor activities.

On the other hand, some take risks. They know they should carry their medication but forget it when they go out or choose to leave it at home, particularly if they don’t expect to eat anything. Adjusting to a diagnosis of allergies is understandably difficult and feelings of unfairness may lead them to eat food they are allergic to. Some get so frustrated with “may contain” labelling that they choose to ignore it.

father supporting teen son with advice new chapter

Supporting teenagers and young adults

Teenagers and young adults need to be respected to make their own decisions. For example, having the opportunity to go to their medical appointments without you.

If you have a teenager who is afraid of social situations or restricts their food intake unnecessarily, you could help them to gradually put themselves in the situations they’re worried about. In this way, they will learn that nothing dangerous is likely to happen.

Panic attacks can feel like allergic reactions. For example, it can feel hard to breathe and they might have a sudden sense of dread or panic, so it’s important for them to know which is which.

If social situations are a problem for your teenager, you could invite a good friend around to your house for a meal as a first step. After a while this can build their confidence so that eventually they feel ready to stay at a friend’s house. Although this may cause anxiety to begin with, in the long run it can reduce it.

Going to university?

Managing Allergies at University

More information on coping strategies for all ages

Coping strategies