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PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 8:26 am 

Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:01 am
Posts: 6
I am new to these posts and was looking for some advice. My son is 4 years old and was diagnosed with a peanut allergy when he was almost 3. He ate some peanut butter at that time and developed a blister like bump on the right corner of his bottom lip. I gave him benadryl and brought him to ER and he was fine. Allergy testing (both skin test and blood test) later revealed he was allergic to peants (4+) and he was prescribed an epipen.

Since then we have always been super careful and (knock on wood) no incident. Until this past weekend.....

we were visiting at a friends house who has other children and my son was playing in the family room with some toys. He was not eating anything. He came to me and said "mom my lip feels swollen". I looked at him and his bottom lip had 2 blister like bumps on it. I rushed to get the epipen bag and took out the benadryl instead and gave him his dose. Then I began to wonder if I should give the epipen. I have been told it is best to give it at first symptom when you know he has been exposed. But he wasn't eating anything and I didn't really know if he had come in contact with any peanut protein on any toys, etc.

So I called the ER and they said to watch him. I couldn't relax so I ended up taking him to the hospital and they checked him out and he was fine. The bumps went away within 1hour to 1.5 hours and that was it.

But now I am second guessing myself. Should I have given the epipen? Would you have given it? And if not when do I know when to use the epipen? My mother is also posing these questions to me now because I always told her on first symptom of anything you should give it and now she is saying she don't know when to give it because I never. But I have no idea if he had any contact with the peanut protein. What are your thoughts? When would you give the epipen? Would you have given it in this instance?

Thank you so much. I appreciate your feedback on this.

PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:05 am 

Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 9:40 pm
Posts: 2034
Location: ottawa
Hi there, I thought you might like to read a post I put in there a few weeks ago. Our son has had every reaction from swelling until his eyes were shut, blood shot eyes pouring with tears, asthma induced from a reaction, sneezing perfusely, vomiting, grabbing his tongue, chocking/ grunting sounds. How many times have I used the epipen, you must think all the time right.....nope....once. I will always use it when needed from now on. I am very very thankful that our son was able to recover fully without my using the epipen, I think our luck would have run out at some point and that makes me ill looking back. It is never safe to wait, I've learned that. Also read an article posted from the last Allergic Living called Use The Darn Needle I've copied it below as I tried to put the link here but it didn't work.
I'm glad your son is ok. My opinion would be, yes, use your epipen. Hugs to you.

Ok, after a few reactions (gulp..3 to be exact) where I should have used the epipen but didn't I was all prepared for the time I did have to use it. He's had epinephrine before a few times but always at the DR. after vaccines so she gives it to him in the arm with a syringe. The good thing is as I've seen him have the epinephrine I know how instantly it works so that is comforting.
Last night at playgroup just after supper I noticed our son start to scratch. I don't think we would have touched food there but when I see the grubby hands show up to playgroups I can pretty much guess that someone had peanut butter for supper or from one of the kids who played earlier in the day and touched the toys.
I watched like a hawk, , he started out with a small amount of rash/hives. I gave him benedryl but after just a couple minutes my gut knew what I needed to do. The rash and hives were growing in front of my eyes. Did I use the epipen right then, nope (I know I know) . !! I took out my cell phone to call my husband, then all in an instant I put it back. I remembered at the OASG I attended how as the discussion moved from topic to topic how 'not having ' using the epipen came up. Other parents mentioned not using it also when they should have and how several people piped up that their first instinct was to call someone. A mom said that she learned if you need to calls someone you already know the answer. So during this mlilisecond of thought our son looked at me, his eyes popped out of his head as if asking for help. He was pulling at his tongue and gave this weird clearing his throat sound. Our daughter has practiced her epipen demonstration about 100x at home and literally I heard and saw her in my head step by step. The little guy cried but the reaction faded away instantly. It was a long night at CHEO but he was a trooper. The nurses were all so wonderful making sure to tell me I did the right thing and 'way to go' for using the epipen. I hope they know how important that is to hear!

Learning The Hard Way:
How Not to Fear the Needle

By Kathy Lundquist

*See Also: A letter from Kevin

If I'd written this a year ago, my perspective might have been a little different than it is today. Our son Kevin is 11-years-old and severely allergic to dairy, eggs and peanuts. We used epinephrine on him only once in those 11 years, and were very proud of our track record, especially with his list of severe allergies. After all, how many times a day do we eat? Three meals, snacks, parties, holidays - OK we eat continually. Then we had two back-to-back accidents within three months that threw everything we thought we knew out of the window.

When I read accounts in the past of children who died because the EpiPen wasn't given immediately, I silently wondered how that could happen. Why would anyone hesitate? After all, it's easy to use, it barely hurts, it does no harm if used when not needed (caution is advised for certain heart conditions), it helps severe asthma attacks, it can save a life. Now I understand. Now, we have our own tales of near misses to share, causing people to look at us the same way.

Our son has asthma. Each time he was exposed to an allergen in the past, he had a sudden, severe asthma attack. Mind you, those exposures were mostly caused by his allergens being cooked in the same room, not by ingestion. The two times he got a sip of milk as an infant, he also threw up violently and immediately. Each of those reactions was turned around with antihistamines and albuterol.

When he was 7, a cheese slice touched his food. He didn't eat the cheese slice - it just touched his food. Sudden asthma attack. Albuterol and antihistamines barely made a dent this time. We rushed him to the doctor where he was given a shot of epinephrine and steroids. We had an EpiPen with us - we didn't use it because we were looking for more than asthma. Big mistake. We were lucky his symptoms turned around.

Flash forward five years, with no reactions in-between. In the back of our minds, we were silently wondering if he might be outgrowing his allergies. He outgrew several by age 5; maybe the allergy tests were wrong? That turned out to be wishful thinking. A few months ago, we gave our son a new product that was dairy/egg/peanut free, or so the ingredients indicated. He took a few bites, and then left the room. Being the paranoid, overprotective, cautious type, I followed him. He took a few sips of water, and complained that his throat was bothering him. So was his stomach. That was all, nothing more. No asthma, no noticeable swelling, no throwing up.

I had that nervous feeling that only a parent raising a child with food allergies can understand - it's sickening. I reread the label on the product about a dozen times - no allergens. But he was not behaving right. Where was his asthma? It had always been our early warning sign, but this time, his symptoms were different. So, being an educated person, I gave him the EpiPen anyway, right? Wrong. But we did take him to the ER.

At the hospital, they looked at me like I had a second head. The child didn't appear to be in much distress, no asthma, blood pressure was fine, a bit of throat stridor, and he was moaning and sighing and his voice was funny. I handed them a copy of his emergency allergy plan, and explained our history.

So they gave him epinephrine immediately, right? Wrong again. Although I asked them to several times. (Where was my parenting skill? Why didn't I just give him the shot I had in my purse?!) They took our son in the back where some doctors and nurses surrounded him and stared at him, pondering their next move.

Suddenly, our child's symptoms exploded. He threw up violently, filling five containers, getting it all over him and a few of those around him. His throat closed. They ran for the EpiPen, and injected him immediately. They put in IV's and started steroids, more epinephrine, and antihistamines. He was traumatized, but his symptoms improved and he fell asleep while we stayed there for hours, monitoring him.

We contacted the manufacturer later, to find out what might have been in the food that wasn't on the label. They happily told us their plant was peanut-free. Yes, but what about dairy or egg? "No, no, we're dairy-free too." Egg? "Oh, egg is everywhere. High probability there was egg cross contamination. Is that a problem?" Unfortunately, yes, since our son is severely allergic to eggs. It seems that many people, including some manufacturers, don't understand that other food allergies can be just as severe as peanut. That takes us to last (American) Thanksgiving. The extended family was gathered around eating dinner. My son took a few bites, got a funny look on his face, and said he wasn't hungry. That nervous feeling started to grip my stomach ... not again! We excused ourselves from the table, since he is now at that age where he is private, and doesn't want a fuss. He said his throat felt funny, but he only ate some corn and potatoes. I ran into the kitchen and rechecked all the labels. Nothing.

I looked at him and his upper lip was starting to swell. This time, I told him, we're going to use the EpiPen. He looked at me like all kids do when you tell them they're going to get a shot. Then, to my surprise, he asked me to hand it to him. He wanted to do it himself. He did it flawlessly, holding it in place for the slow 10 second count, with a big smile on his face. It didn't hurt, and he knew that what he had done was brave and mature.

We went to the hospital. This time, no drama, no IV's. They gave him steroid pills, which he was able to swallow, and monitored him for a few hours. That was it. Because we (he) acted quickly this time, he was spared more trauma and misery. We left after a few hours and rejoined our family. It turned out there were two batches of potatoes, one with milk, the other without.

The lesson in all of this? Take food allergies seriously and do all you can to prevent a reaction. Read labels and avoid cross-contamination. Even with all of this, accidents will still happen. When they do, act quickly, and use the EpiPen immediately. As our son recently proved, it's so simple to use, even a child can do it.

Kathy Lundquist lives near Buffalo, New York and is a member of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network's Speaker's Bureau. For more information, visit or call 1-800-929-4040.

A Letter from Kevin

The following is a letter that Kathy's son, Kevin, wrote in response to a question from another child about his experience.

Hi Curtis, The EpiPen didn't really hurt. I felt better right away and I didn't throw up. I was a little afraid to take it, but I wanted to do it myself. I don't know why. If I get an allergic reaction again, I would not be afraid to use it. You should use it right away, because the longer you wait, the sicker you get. You should try practicing it with a play EpiPen. If you eat the wrong food, sometimes you can feel it in your throat. The last couple of times I had an allergic reaction, I always felt it in my throat. I can't describe it, I just know how it feels. I had a little bit of a hard time breathing both times, too. Sometimes if you have the EpiPen and you have an allergic reaction, you should not be afraid to use it - then go to the hospital and get some steroids. They taste bad if you don't swallow them fast, but they help you feel better too. Drink something you like to swallow them easier. You can leave your clothes on - the shot goes right through and you don't get embarrassed from taking them off. After you take the EpiPen, you should put a Band-aid on where you did the shot.

From Kevin

DD 12 yrs -no allergies
4 yr old DS - asthma/eczema Anaphylactic to Peanuts, all tree nuts, sesame , all pea/lentil legumes, gelatin.
Allergic to trees, grass,ragweed, feathers, dander, mold and dust.
Outgrew eggs, fish, shellfish

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