A gifted teenage university student with a dairy allergy died after eating a chicken burger marinated in butter milk at a restaurant, an inquest has heard.

Shahida Shahid, 18, from Worsley, Salford, had previously needed to have urgent treatment at a restaurant in Birmingham after a previous violent reaction, the court was told.

Shahida was out with friends when she became suddenly ill and collapsed, just minutes after the meal at Almost Famous.

A friend administered her epi-pen to combat the allergic reaction and she was rushed to hospital.

Shahida Shahid, 18

What to do if you have an allergic reaction?

Symptoms of an allergic reaction usually develop within a few minutes of being exposed to something you're allergic to, although occasionally they can develop gradually over a few hours.

Although allergic reactions can be a nuisance and hamper your normal activities, most are mild.

Very occasionally, a severe reaction called anaphylaxis can occur.

Main allergy symptoms

Common symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • sneezing and an itchy, runny or blocked nose (allergic rhinitis)
  • itchy, red, watering eyes (conjunctivitis)
  • wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and a cough
  • a raised, itchy, red rash (hives)
  • swollen lips, tongue, eyes or face
  • tummy pain, feeling sick, vomiting or diarrhoea
  • dry, red and cracked skin

The symptoms vary depending on what you're allergic to and how you come into contact with it. For example, you may have a runny nose if exposed to pollen, develop a rash if you have a skin allergy, or feel sick if you eat something you're allergic to.

Severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)

In rare cases, an allergy can lead to a severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock, which can be life-threatening.

This affects the whole body and usually develops within minutes of exposure to something you're allergic to.

Signs of anaphylaxis include any of the symptoms above, as well as:

  • swelling of the throat and mouth
  • difficulty breathing
  • lightheadedness
  • confusion
  • blue skin or lips
  • collapsing and losing consciousness

How is diagnosed?

Skin prick testing is one of the most common allergy tests.

It involves putting a drop of liquid onto your forearm that contains a substance you may be allergic to. The skin under the drop is then gently pricked with a needle. If you are allergic to the substance, an itchy, red bump will appear within 15 minutes.

Skin prick testing is painless and very safe. Make sure you don't take antihistamines before the test, as they can interfere with the results.

Blood tests

Blood tests may be used instead of, or alongside, skin prick tests to help diagnose common allergies.

A sample of your blood is removed and analysed for specific antibodies produced by your immune system in response to an allergen.

Patch tests

Patch tests are used to investigate a type of eczema known as contact dermatitis, which can be caused by your skin being exposed to an allergen.

A small amount of the suspected allergen is added to special metal discs, which are then taped to your skin for 48 hours and monitored for a reaction.

Elimination diet

If you have a suspected food allergy, you may be advised to avoid eating a particular food to see if your symptoms improve.

After a few weeks, you may then be asked to eat the food again to check if you have another reaction.

Don't attempt to do this yourself without discussing it with a qualified healthcare professional.

Challenge testing

In a few cases, a test called a food challenge may also be used to diagnose a food allergy.

During the test, you're given the food you think you're allergic to in gradually increasing amounts, to see how you react under close supervision.

This test is riskier than other forms of testing, as it could cause a severe reaction, but is the most accurate way to diagnose food allergies. And challenge testing is always carried out in a clinic where a severe reaction can be treated if it does develop.