Australia has one of the highest reported incidences of food allergies in the world, and one in ten babies born in Australia today will develop a food allergy.
Our second child was diagnosed at nine months to having seven food allergies – egg, peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, soy, shellfish and strawberries. He is now seven and we only just had to use the EpiPen for the first time. I share our own story so other parents, carers and teachers can learn from our experience and take comfort that using the EpiPen is nothing to fear and can save your child’s life.
Our son, Thai, ingested 5 teaspoons of real yoghurt containing MILK, our error not his. My husband accidentally picked up lactose free yoghurt rather than soy yoghurt (very similar packaging).
The moment it happened we were prepared. When Thai even touches milk he breaks out in hives. However, this time, nothing happened right away. Thirty minutes passed before he started to have symptoms – watery runny eyes, runny nose, sneezing and nasal congestion.
After the initial symptoms, Thai started to get worse. He complained of a sore throat, started to sweat and developed a very hoarse cough.
I told Thai we were going to use his EpiPen soon though he begged me not to. I knew if he wasn’t calm and restrained, the pen could hurt him, or worse still, the adrenaline may not be administered if he knocked it from my hand.
I grabbed the trainer pen from my suitcase and sat him between my legs and showed him what we were going to do and how he was going to help me count to 10.
Although shaking and near tears myself, I knew I had to be in control to help my son. When I quickly administered the EpiPen, I had one arm around his arms to secure him. I told Thai there would be a quick sting just like an ant bite, but that by the time we started counting to 10, he would be feeling much better.
He remained still and didn’t object as I administered the pen. Within seconds, he was well on the way to getting better. Without the EpiPen, things would have been a lot different.
Every child is different as is every allergic reaction. You will know what is best for your child, but having a plan will help you stay in control and ensure the best outcome for your child.
Tips for Parents – Handling an Allergic Reaction
- Read the ingredients every time
- Reactions can vary each time
- Don’t be afraid to use the EpiPen – it can save your child’s life
- Have an Action plan in place, and use it!
- Practice with a trainer pen to gain confidence in using the EpiPen
- Go over any crisis event and talk about what has happened with your family
Allergy Awareness Week is 15 to 21 May 2016. For more information visit www.myfoodallergyfriends.com.