Friday, May 16, 2008

What does a reaction look like?

There is no cure for food allergies; only strict avoidance of the allergy-causing food can prevent a reaction. Anaphylaxis is a very serious allergic reaction that can result in death. So what does a reaction look like? Symptoms can include:
  • Hives, itchy rash, swelling of the face or extremities
  • Itching, tingling, or swelling of the lips, tongue, or mouth
  • Nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Tightening of the throat, hoarseness, hacking cough
  • Shortness of breath, repetitive coughing, wheezing
  • Weak or thready pulse, low blood pressure, fainting, pale, blueness
  • Coma or death

I remember very vividly one night about 3-4 years ago when Brody had his last anaphylactic reaction. He had accidentally picked up his cousin's cup instead of his own and took a teeny-tiny sip. Instantly he looked at me and said something was wrong. The cup had milk in it! His tongue felt like it was burning so he was clawing at it with his fingernails. He felt like he was going to vomit. He started wheezing and had a barky cough. His face was flushed and he was covered with hives. This all happened within 30 seconds of taking that itsy-bitsy sip. I was terrified and so was Brody. I'll never forget that look of fear in his eyes. Unfortunately at that time I was not nearly as well versed in food allergies as I am now. I did not use the EpiPen, but instead just gave Brody Benedryl and his inhaler. Luckily this was enough to stop the reaction this time around. When I later spoke with the allergist he informed me that I was "lucky that Brody was still alive". Those words will forever ring in my ears.

I have made it my mission to educate as many people as I possibly can about the severity of food allergies so they will never make the same mistake I did and hesitate to use the EpiPen, which can and will save their child's life from an anaphylactic reaction. I truly believe knowledge is power. Learn everything you possibly can about anaphylaxis now to help keep our food allergic children safe. Please don't wait until it's too late.

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