This topic is always my biggest concern. Obviously, I am always thinking about how to help Little R live a normal life while avoiding a potential food allergy reaction, especially a life threatening one. He has had a few sporadic reactions over the years since his first one that almost took his life. None of them required an Epi-Pen, but my biggest concern with this is that it can cause us to become complacent.
A lot of people are under the impression that all food allergy reactions will be like the first one. They think that all symptoms will be the same, or that because the first reaction was not life threatening, that a life threatening one is unlikely.
I cannot say it any clearer that THIS IS NOT TRUE! I don’t know how many people I have talked to that have food allergy children, or care for one, and they inevitably make the comment that “They just get red around the mouth. They have never had a life threatening reaction.” Or, “Their reactions are NEVER anaphylactic.” I believe that this is what makes death due to a food allergy reaction HIGH RISK! I have read, and heard it said at FAAST food allergy meetings, that the number one cause of death from a food allergy reaction is FAILURE TO USE THE EPI-PEN IN TIME! If you care for a food allergy child, you must first believe that any reaction could be potentially turn life threatening and be prepared to use the Epi-Pen!
Ask any family who has lost a child due to a food allergy reaction. I would bet that none of these families were the ones who were what most people would call “overprotective” when it came to their child’s food allergy. I do not mean any disrespect to these parents. I know how easy it is to live in denial or ignorance about food allergies. Doctors just do not do a good enough job educating about them. But, I just know too many other parents and care givers who live in this fog, and I wish for them to wake up, so to speak.
Read the story of BJ Horn, or Emily Vonder Meulen. Both of these children were loved by their parents, but ended up dying from food allergy reactions (namely peanut allergy) because the volatility of their allergy was not understood completely. Click on their names to read their stories, and pay attention to the part where their parents basically say, “We didn’t know/believe that their allergy would be truly life threatening.”
Nobody wants to believe that they could lose their child, especially because of food. But, if your child has a food allergy, you MUST start taking this seriously! If your child has a peanut allergy, you especially need to be on alert as peanut allergies appear to be the MOST volatile.
*BJ Horn link is from Allergy Moms blog. Gina does a great job educating about food allergies. I recommend reading her website and blog.
*Emily Vonder Meulen link is from Food Allergy Angel website. Picture used with permission from her father Paul Vonder Meulen. Paul has developed this website to help share Emily’s story in an effort to educate others about food allergies.