Tuesday, June 5, 2012

the VERY important, life-saving facts about food allergies

a week ago i wrote about a peanut reaction my 17 year old daughter
had from eating a rice krispie treat while at a ballet performance.
the rice krispie treat had been made with peanut butter added and because 
she had never heard of that, the thought didn't occur to her.
by eating just a few bites of it,
she suffered her first severe anaphylactic reaction.
here is the link for that blog post:

if this sounds kinda boring,
i get it.
 sometimes learning important things works that way.
but......if you are faced with someone in this situation,
it wouldn't be boring then, i can tell you from experience;)
my sister mentioned she was glad to learn this as Vacation Bible School
was coming up.
i never thought of that.
Good one Nancy:)

please forgive me if this post is all over the place.
if i take any more time to organize, it may never get done.
i can tell you THAT from experience too:)
my sources are at the end of this blog post.
  i don't know nearly enough about it,
but just want to share what i have learned through the years.

first, what is "anaphylaxis"?
ANAPHYLAXIS:  a potentially fatal condition in which sufferers
have trouble breathing because of constricted airways
 (caused by swelling of passageways due to allergy),
circulatory collapse (experience a sudden and drastic drop in blood pressure),
potential heart failure (have an increased pulse rate and may pass out).

*Food allergies cause between 150-200 deaths in the U.S each year,
with almost 60% of those stemming from peanut allergies.

*Peanut allergy is the most common cause of deaths from food allergies.

*According to scientists,
peanut and tree nut (pecans, walnuts, almonds etc.) affect approx.
12-15 million americans.
Then there are those who suffer from EQUALLY SEVERE
Bee Sting Allergies. (Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network.)

*THERE IS NO CURE for peanut allergy and no therapies
that eliminate or reduce the severity of peanut allergy,
only treatments to be given after the fact.

*Reactions can be mild
 (tingling sensation, metallic taste in the mouth, warmth, scattered hives, swelling around the lips and on face, itching, runny nose, sneezing, mild cough, wheezing, pale, GI symptoms such as cramping or vomiting),
ex. of hives after ingesting peanuts:

this is exactly how Taylor looked when she was younger and had accidental
contact with peanuts, even something as mild as another child touching her with peanuts on her hands.
now we have moved on to a severe peanut allergy, 
after assuming it was "ONLY" a mild one.

*Reactions can begin and proceed RAPIDLY, in extreme cases proving
FATAL within minutes.

*They used to think you could outgrow a peanut allergy,
estimating that approx 20% will outgrow it.
However, according to Viviana Temino, MD, Assistant Professor at the
University of Miami Medical School,
"if you have been allergic since childhood,
it's more likely you will stay that way."
she then goes on to say that the confusion comes because of other food allergies.
“A lot of little kids develop food allergies, but they are more likely to grow out of allergies such as eggs and milk," she says. "A peanut allergy is more persistent.”
so much for outgrowing this monster!
*did you know that peanuts are not a nut?
they are actually a legume, meaning a person who is allergic
to peanuts may not be allergic to nuts.
but it can happen.
Taylor is highly allergic to peanuts and also allergic to tree nuts.....
and for good measure, soy.

*Roasting peanuts makes them more allergenic.....and we roast our peanuts in the
United States.
UNLIKE other countries, which MAY indicate why their 
incidence of peanut allergy is much lower.

*Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention, including an injection of epinephrine
(commonly called an epi-pen) that most known allergic sufferers carry with them
and if not, most emergency medical personnel.  If a shot of epi is given, it must be followed up by a visit to the emergency room for a few reasons.
one being the use of a life saving drug means the patient needs to be seen in ER
and also because if they have not vomited,
the allergen remains in their body and can flare up again after a few hours.
this is called a biphasic reaction and it can be worse than the first reaction.
(after 17 years, this was the first time i had heard this fact!)

*if you have a history of asthma or family allergies, and/or have a history
of family anaphylaxis,
your chance of having a life threatening reaction is greater.

*once you have had an anaphylactic reaction,
 your odds INCREASE that you will have another.

Okay, because it is SO important,
here is a review of the SYMPTOMS of an
Symptoms of Anaphylaxis

Symptoms of anaphylaxis may include:
• Breathing: wheezing, shortness of breath, throat tightness, cough, hoarse voice, chest pain/tightness, trouble swallowing, itchy mouth/throat, nasal stuffiness/congestion
• Circulation: pale/blue color, low pulse, dizziness, lightheadedness/passing out, low blood pressure, shock, loss of consciousness
• Skin: hives, swelling, itch, warmth, redness, rash
• Stomach: nausea, pain/cramps, vomiting, diarrhea
• Other: anxiety, feeling of impending doom, itchy/red/watery eyes, headache, cramping of the uterus

and here is a list of 
Some Unexpected Sources of Peanut
  • Sauces such as chili sauce, hot sauce, pesto, gravy, mole  sauce, and salad dressing
  • Sweets such as pudding, cookies, and hot chocolate
  • Egg rolls
  • Potato pancakes
  • Pet food
  • Specialty pizzas
  • Asian and Mexican dishes
  • Some vegetarian food products, especially those advertised as meat substitutes
  • Foods that contain extruded, cold-pressed, or expelled peanut oil, which may contain peanut protein
  • Glazes and marinades
basically, there is no getting around it.
peanuts are EVERYWHERE!

and to make matters WORSE,
there are a BUNCH of food allergies out there.
According to the food allergy network;

Top Food Allergens

  • Eight foods account for 90% of all food-allergic reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (e.g., walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans), wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish.   Estimated prevalence9, some based on self-report, among the U.S. population:
    • Peanut: 0.6-1.3%
    • Tree nuts: 0.4-0.6%
    • Fish: 0.4%
    • Crustacean shellfish (crab, crayfish, lobster, shrimp): 1.2%
    • All seafood: 0.6% in children and 2.8% in adults
    • Milk and egg: based on data within and obtained outside the United States, this rate is likely to be 1-2% for young children and 0.2-0.4% in the general population.
Yikes, huh?

as a parent of a child who has been allergic her whole life, 
i have always believed the responsibility is mine and now mine and Taylor's
to inform others and be prepared.
when she was in playgroups, the other mother's knew about it
and didn't prepare things with peanuts.
they also knew what to do in case of emergency.
never once did i ask another mother to feed her child something else because of my daughter.
if there was a problem,
i would pack our own food or leave.
simple as that.
she has learned to question everything since she was younger and not to eat
unknown foods.
i know.....but what happened?
a case of letting our guard down and a particularly irresistible 
rice krispie treat:)
****Teens are the most at risk for fatal allergic reactions, and studies have shown that education of their friends would make living with a food allergy easier.****
today, we make sure her roommates at her summer ballet programs are aware,
as well as the resident nurse and staff at the school.
Taylor carries an epi-pen
(and WILL NOT forget it again:)
as well as benadryl for a mild reaction.
She also has a medical alert bracelet which i have purchased and made various bracelets for her.  The original bracelet came from an AMAZING
she has so many different types of allergy alert jewelry, 
for young and old
boys and girls,
casual and dressy.
just look at some of the items......

this one from BW Silver looks really cool too!

so you see, there are a lot of options.
personally, i never let Taylor stray too much from the traditional 
because i want to make sure people realize it IS a medical alert bracelet,
but at least you have options.

if i had my way, she would have a tattoo on her wrist.
okay, it would be small and cute, maybe with a heart or cross
with the med alert sign too and a simple "peanut allergy".
believe it or not, this is a trend, starting with temporary tattoos for little kids and changing to permanent ones as they get older.
maybe i would and maybe not.
after last weekend, i certainly think so but......

okay, okay, this is long.
i know.
but hang on.
say you work with kids, volunteer, teach sunday school, are hosting
a playdate or mom's club (with kiddies).
how can you prepare.
first, do this.......
i guarantee someone will complain.
but don't let them get to you.
if it were their child, they would appreciate this.
some people just can't help being miserable, you know?
don't give in.

ask mom if the child can have the treats you have planned.
let her make the call.
know the symptoms of reaction.
here are a few more tips......

  Even under the most watchful eye exposure to peanuts can happen, it's just a fact of life.  Don't freak out....with care, these children are just like all the others. 
know the signs:
1. Skin changes
2.  Breathing changes
3.  Tummy Trouble: 
What to do: In the presence of hives or other skin changes, give oral Benadryl and call the parent.  If the child is experiencing any two of these signs at the same time give the Epipen and call 911.  CALL 911 FIRST, then call the parent.  Make sure you give the Epipen to the EMT, because the hospital might need to know exactly how much medication the child received.  
As many an allergist has said, when in doubt, just use the Epipen.  The benefits far outweigh the risks.  

and lastly (WHEW, right?)
if your child has an allergy,
have a PLAN!
this one from peanut allergy kids is AMAZING!
how cool! 
all allergy suffers should carry something like this.
i know my daughter will get it stuffed in her purse:)
this should be in every backpack, diaper bag, purse, nurses office.....
it's that good.

a few more tips......
when flying, you can request when you make your reservation that 
peanut products NOT be served.
ask to talk to a supervisor.
every little bit helps.

try to think of places where cross contamination might occur.
if you go out for ice cream, ask for a new scoop to be used.
we did that Saturday night at Haagen Dasz and the young girl
immediately said "peanut allergy"?
we said yes, she got a new scoop
 AND put it under a high pressure cleaner.

now, one favor, please.
some in the medical community say this is overblown.
to them i say tell that to the parents who have lost a child.
what does it hurt to be prepared.
absolutely nothing.
and it might save a child.
that's what counts!
you can find more info at the links i mentioned.
also, most info came from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma
and Immunologyas well as Medicine Net and the 

Hugs and Blessings to All.......

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