Teenager, 17, has to constantly tell people she has not been beaten up after severe allergic reactions leave her with black eyes and a swollen, bruised face

March 7, 2019  19:22

A teenage girl often has to tell strangers she hasn't been beaten up because of her severe allergic reactions.

Kira-Shai Whitehead, from Birstall, Yorkshire, regularly has bruised lips, black eyes and swollen cheeks as a result of her allergies.

The 17-year-old began suffering from the life-threatening reactions two years ago. However, doctors are still baffled as to what causes them.

Her parents have taken her to hospital at least 30 times over the same time frame because the reactions can escalate into anaphylactic shock. 

Kira-Shai has been in hospital for the past four weeks because of a severe reaction, which saw her hooked up to an oxygen supply to help her breathe. 

And the college student claimed her teachers and nurses have even pulled her aside to ask if she's being abused at home.

Kira-Shai, an aspiring model before her spontaneous and idiopathic reactions first began, has spent months hiding away to avoid being questioned by strangers.

But she is now sharing her story to raise awareness. She said: 'I'm always being asked by strangers if I've been beaten up as my allergic reactions affects my face.

'Some medical staff and teachers have even been concerned that my parents have assaulted me.

'When I used to go to school I remember teachers asking if everything was okay at home and if I get on with my parents, they were basically accusing them of beating me up, I was so angry.

'And it was the same when I went to the hospital, as the nurses pulled me aside from my parents to ask about my home life.'

Her reactions are normally triggered by emotions, heat, air pressure, stress or solvents - but doctors remain clueless as to why her reactions started. 

Kira-Shai added: 'Now I have at least two severe reactions per month and won't go longer than two weeks without needing to come back to hospital.

'The reactions change each time and sometimes are more serious than others, I won't know whether they'll calm down or progress into a life threatening stage.'

Kira-Shai revealed her most recent reaction, as well as making her need oxygen to help her breathe, has caused her eye to completely close because it is so swollen. 

She added: 'I've also been suffering from horrific stomach cramps which doctors can't find the cause for either, they're not sure if my allergies and my stomach issues are linked.

'But I am staying positive and I've set up my own campaign "don't judge a book by its cover" as a lot of people have assumed I've been in a fight due to the appearance on my face when having a flare up.

'That's why I was so inspired to set up my campaign as it's important to educate people.'

Kira-Shai fears doctors will never be able to get to the bottom of her spontaneous reactions - but says she has learned to cope with the flare ups.

She added: 'My reactions can come on at any time of the day whenever, there's no pattern to it but I always try to avoid stressful situations now as this could cause a flare up.

'When I'm not in hospital I do all the normal teenage things like my friends, I don't like to let my allergies hold me back and now I've started to share my story the support has been amazing.' 

Kira-Shai has been supported by her parents Tim, 44, and Cheryl, 40, as well as her three brothers, Kyle, 26, Kai, 14, and Korey, 10.

Her father, a bath and plumbing manager, said: 'Kira-Shai has been through such a lot in the last few years and at times, she has been scared to go out as she didn't want people to see her black eyes and swollen lips.

'But despite being in and out of hospital she has managed to raise awareness and has even set up her own campaign to educate others on how allergic reactions can affect the body.

'We've been asked to leave the room at some hospital trips as medical staff question Kira-Shai about whether everything is ok at home.

'She has undergone every test imaginable but we still don't know what products or foods she needs to avoid if it's even triggered by those.'

He added: 'It has been hard for us as a family with our daughter spending so much time in hospital but we're just hoping we get the answers we desperately need.

'Kira-Shai's reactions will often start with a swollen red mark on her face and then will either go down with steroid treatments or will get worse as they have done in the past few weeks.

'She has recently had an MRI, CT and ultrasound scans which showed basically nothing but has just had an Endoscopy which we're awaiting the results for.' 

Source: dailymail.co.uk

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