Having an anaphylactic child means a severe allergic reaction can be life-threatening. A reaction can happen within seconds or minutes of exposure to something they’re allergic to, such as nuts or bees. This was the case for me when I gave my one-year-old a pinch of a peanut butter sandwich. A pinch, it was only a pinch. Within seconds his entire body flared up in welts. The moment I noticed, my brother-in-law, the firefighter, happened to walk into the kitchen. He immediately, without hesitation, grabbed him and me and rushed us to the hospital. Within seconds of arriving, the doctors and nurses had him in a room and gave him a shot of adrenaline and an oxygen mask.
From a parent’s perspective, I lived with anxiety almost every day when he was a child. I kept a mental checklist while attending birthday parties, school, and even restaurants. Food allergies are the scariest for me. He’s now 27, and the fear is still there but not as intense. I still check that he’s wearing his medical alert and carrying his EpiPen. If you are a new mom and have recently learned your child has an allergy, here are the first two pointers to keep in mind to limit exposure. I’ve created a checklist to train yourself and your child.
1. The moment you learn your child has a food allergy, teach them always to ask what’s inside of what they are being offered. Practice this every time and even at restaurants.
2. Condition your child to say “No” if anyone offers them food.
3. Always keep Benadryl in the house.
4. Inform teachers, coaches, and other parents of the allergy.
5. Always have enough EpiPens to keep around. For me, it was in his backpack, school, kitchen and wherever he spent the most time. Never allow them to leave without their EpiPen.
6. Educate them that there is nothing wrong with them. It’s not a disease, and not to be afraid to ask for help.
7. Use expired EpiPens and oranges to practice and learn to inject themselves.
8. Read all labels for their ingredients.
9. Wash their hands often and keep their fingers out of their mouths.
10. Never use anyone else’s cutlery.
11. If your child shows any signs of a reaction, use the EpiPen immediately and call 911.
12. Make sure anyone and everyone they spend time with follow the exact protocol.
There are two more things to watch out for if your child is allergic to nuts.
1. Soy protein and legume beans are known to be related to the nut family.
2. If a slight reaction occurs, any movement such as climbing stairs or exercise can accelerate the reaction from none to a threatening full-blown anaphylactic state.