Being a mother with a child who has allergies, there is a restriction I need to live with…I call it the The Five Minute Window. Simply stating, I need to be able to reach my children within minutes. When you have a child who lives with allergies and they begin to show signs of allergic reaction, every minute counts. In our home I have two children who have allergies. My children, have environmental and food allergies. Initially it took some time to understand that every child reacts differently. I would read the information and think my children don’t have all these symptoms; their allergies may not be that bad.
In time, I learned a true allergy is a reaction triggered by the immune system. A severe allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis. During this type of reaction, a person’s tongue or throat may quickly swell up, making breathing difficult. However, in most cases people have minor symptoms. In our family the boys had eczema, stuffy noses all the time and periodically some digestive issues. To help them we decided to have them get allergy shots. Once a week the kids would leave school at the end of the day and head to the allergist. We were fortunate to have a wonderful physician who had a team who would answer every question and I had many. The kids went in for their weekly allergy shots and we waited thirty minutes to ensure there would be no reaction. I thought they were doing well, once they reached thirty weeks the kids would go onto maintenance dose which only required them to come into the office once a month. Then it happened on week 26; on our way home in the car my son started itching his neck and his cheeks got red as if he was sunburned and he started coughing. Karl was experiencing an anaphylaxis reaction. I immediately called the allergist who informed me that Karl’s body was giving us warning signs and if he did not get treatment immediately he could have his throat or tongue swell, cutting off his ability to breathe. Anaphylaxis is a severe and dangerous allergic reaction to certain foods, insect stings, some medicine, and latex and in some cases exercise. This type of reaction can be severe and life threatening and requires immediate medication attention.
I knew Karl’s symptoms were serious and we had only minutes to get treatment. I’ve read all the literature and thought I was prepared but I had never given my son an EpiPen injection and was terrified. We just got off the phone with the allergist who told me Karl was in a serious situation and I’m in the middle of rush hour traffic. It was a terrifying experience to think my sons airways was beginning to shut off. We were blessed to be in a location where the emergency clinic was my next right turn. In the future, I won’t hesitate and will pull the car over to give him the injection myself. Since that day I have practiced giving the injection with the Auto Injector Trainer that is provided with the EpiPen injector kit. I wish I could say it was our last time with this type of reaction but in fact we have had three others. There is really no way to predict how severe a future reaction might be so being prepared is essential. We don’t leave the house without having the allergy kit, emergency information that includes medicine they are taking and his doctors’ name and numbers. In addition, we have taken an additional step and educate anyone who has the care of our children about the symptoms of allergies.
To learn more about allergies go to: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001815/
Reactions can be characterized by one or more of the symptoms below:
- Metalic taste or tingling in the mouth
- Swelling of the tongue, lips, or throat
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Abdominal cramps
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Rash or itchy skin
- Coughing or wheezing
- Loss of consciousness
- Increase heart rate
- Dizziness or sudden weakness