I’m an EpiPen Mom: Our Experience with Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis: a severe, possibly life-threatening allergic reaction that can occur within seconds of being exposed to something you're allergic to.

This sounds like one of those scary commercials on TV, but it is so real life.

Imagine cooking something you always cook, feeding your child something you always serve, and they suddenly have an allergic reaction! Y’all I literally fried some fish, something we often do and my 5 year old was being her usual picky self. I just grabbed a pinch from her plate and rubbed it across her lips – she didn’t even take a bite. Within one minute, her lips were swollen, her face was red, and she had welts all around her mouth. I gave her a dose of Benadryl and a few minutes later she was back to normal.

We got lucky that night. That reaction could’ve sent us to the ER that night, or worse. The next week, we took her to the allergy clinic and she had to get an allergy test. If you’ve never had an allergy test (me!), they make you lie down on your back and they prick you with allergens to see which ones react. The allergens you aren’t allergic to don’t react at all, but the ones that are triggered really ITCH!

Allergy Testing in progress

The tricky thing is that allergies can develop at any time and it can be something you are exposed to frequently, or something you’ve never been exposed to at all. We found out that day that Amelia is allergic to every type of fish except tuna. And if being allergic isn’t enough, fish allergies are unique. The protein in the fish sticks to surfaces and lingers in the air, so not only can she not eat fish, she can not be in the presence of it at all. She also had to get an EpiPen.

I’m a teacher, I’ve been EpiPen trained for the last 6 or so years, but having to be responsible for one for your own child is a little different; it’s scary. So of course I searched the internet endlessly for all the things about anaphylaxis and EpiPens and I wanted to share a few things with you.

If you’ve been around a lot of kids or work with kids, I bet you’ve noticed that the kids are allergic to EVERYTHING! Here is a list of the main culprits according to kidshealth.org:

Most Common Children’s Allergies

  1. Peanuts
  2. Milk
  3. Eggs
  4. Soy
  5. Wheat
  6. Tree nuts
  7. Fish

Signs of an Allergic Reaction

Most of these are not tell-tale signs of an allergic reaction, but they can be telling if they accur suddenly after eating or if they happen each time a child eats the same food.

  • Wheezing
  • trouble breathing
  • coughing
  • hoarseness
  • throat tightness
  • belly pain
  • vomiting
  • diarrea
  • hives
  • itchy, watery eyes
  • red spots
  • swelling
  • lightheadedness

If your kid has an EpiPen, be sure that you are properly trained on how to use it and be sure they have one at school. Anaphylaxis can can to anyone anywhere and at anytime. It is best to be prepared and remember, if you have to administer an EpiPen, the person still has to seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY afterwards? Does your child have allergies? Please share your allergy/anaphylaxis stories with me in the comments.

Until next time…

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