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An allergy influencer who filmed a 'life-threatening' reaction that left her unrecognizable warns viewers not to dismiss symptoms like she did

Andrew Lloyd   

An allergy influencer who filmed a 'life-threatening' reaction that left her unrecognizable warns viewers not to dismiss symptoms like she did
  • TikToker Shivaika Sewlal filmed her severe allergic reaction after coming into contact with peanuts.
  • The video blew up and commenters questioned why she didn't seem to take her symptoms seriously.

An allergy influencer who neglected to use her adrenaline pen immediately after a severe reaction to peanuts shared the experience to TikTok in the hopes others will learn from her mistake.

On September 29, Shivaika Sewlal, a 22-year-old from Cape Town, South Africa, posted a two-minute video with an on-screen caption that read, "Me not realising that I'm having a life-threatening allergic reaction..." alongside a clip that showed significant swelling around her eyes.

@shiv_sewlal I still don’t know what I touched that caused the reaction but after rubbing my eyes - I immediately started swelling up #allergicreactioncheck #peanutallergyawareness #epipencheck ♬ original sound - SHIV

In the video, which received a massive 22.2 million views, Sewlal went on to say she wasn't sure whether to go to the hospital, as she had facial swelling but felt "completely fine," before acknowledging she couldn't see properly.

Sewlal, who often posts about living with allergies, filmed her eventual trip to the hospital, including a moment in which the facial recognition in her building seemingly failed to recognize her due to her swollen features. She then recorded what appeared to be a doctor out of shot who asked if the TikToker had administered her adrenaline pen, also referred to by the trademark name EpiPen, which is used to treat extreme allergic reactions. Sewlal responded that she hadn't, before they told her that she should have.

In the rest of the video, Sewlal appeared to receive multiple injections, was placed on a drip, and said the experience was "scary," especially as she had planned to take an allergy tablet and go to sleep instead of going to hospital.

The video received over 18,900 comments, many of which were confused by why she didn't seem to recognize the gravity of the situation.

"Why wouldn't you use your epi pen? This is insane," one viewer wrote in a popular comment that received over 122,000 likes.

Sewlal told Insider she's had allergies since she was a small child and she frequently has reactions to different foods, which aren't always serious.

"I was very confused and didn't realize it was a life-threatening reaction at the time because I didn't eat anything that I was allergic to," Sewlal told Insider in an email exchange. "I only understood the severity of my situation after speaking to the doctor."

Sewlal now believes she touched something that had been in contact with peanuts, and then rubbed her eyes, causing the swelling. According to the Mayo Clinic, even a small amount of peanuts can lead to a serious reaction that can be life-threatening for someone with a severe allergy.

At the end of the video, she advised viewers to go to the hospital if they're ever in doubt, and shared an update from the next morning which showed she was still swollen, but said she felt good.

Sewlal told Insider she posted the video because she didn't want other people to make the same mistake she did given the potential consequences.

"I want others to learn from my mistakes. Now, I know to use my EpiPen as soon as I start reacting," she said, encouraging others to do the same.

Supporting other people with allergies has always been part of Sewlal's mission on TikTok, where she has 589,000 followers.

She told Insider she started posting videos in 2020 as she "wanted to create an online community for people who also suffer from severe eczema, allergies, and asthma" as well as "spread awareness about my conditions."

In past videos, Sewlal explained she has over 40 allergies, which include sensitivities to all nuts and their oils, eggs, and citric acid. She has shared previous experiences of allergic reactions, and shown how she managed her allergies day-to-day, including what she eats and how she deals with people's responses to her reactions.

For more stories like this, check out coverage from Insider's Digital Culture team here.

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