By Suzy Fielders

Every parent’s worst fear is something bad happening to their child, so when I got a call from my daughter’s daycare on March 16, 2011 saying they had called 911 as she was having an anaphylactic reaction, those fears came to life for me. Luckily she got to the hospital and received medications quickly and everything turned out okay. Although it was almost exactly two years ago, it is so clear in my mind …

The ambulance waited at the daycare for me to get there as I worked only about 8 miles away. They did a wonderful job in not just dealing with the allergies but keeping my daughter, Sarah, and I calm. We went to the pediatric ER at Baptist hospital. The staff, nurses and doctors were attentive to both Sarah’s reaction and my questions. Once we got there of course two of the first items were paperwork and administering her medicine (epinephrine, antihistamine, and a mild steroid which works to help the antihistamine work best). We had to stay to keep Sarah under observation for a few hours and were finally released around 6:30pm after going in around 2pm. They gave us after care instructions and told us to follow up with my daughter’s primary doctor the next day and then her allergy doctor.

Even as terrible as that day was when Sarah went to the ER looking back two years later, the memory that sticks with me most about it was not the maternal fear but how incredibly brave my little 4 year old was. She answered all the questions the nurses asked her about how she felt/symptoms and didn’t even cry once – even when she got the epinephrine shot!

Like most families that have children with food allergies we had known this could happen and prepared ourselves and those around us as much as possible. My daughter, Sarah, was continually getting sick and having ear infections around a year old (she is now 6), so when they went to put tubes in her ears they also took blood to conduct allergy tests. Many children who often are congested and sick around that age have dairy allergies so I was expecting to hear back dairy would be positive. Unfortunately, when the results came back she not only had the mild dairy allergy but also had severe tree nut, coconut, peanut & egg allergies as well.

We are blessed to have Dr. Nastasi at Allergy Partners of the Piedmont as her allergist. They have been with us every step of the way from diagnosis, to setting an action plan, managing her allergies and even answering my many questions & calls regarding rashes and reactions she had to other items, such as her reaction to numerous sunscreens. The doctors, nurses, and staff at Allergy Partners have been wonderful to us and have taken the best of care of my daughter and her allergies.

Some tips on what to look for during an anaphylactic reaction:
One of the key indicators is it effects multiple body systems (facial swelling and rashes) and often there are issues with breathing. If your child is prescribed an EpiPen and facial swelling, difficulty breathing happens then automatically administer the EpiPen and call 911. If there is just a rash/skin issues, then give Benadryl and call your pediatrician or allergist. If you suspect your child has food allergies (without the anaphylactic reaction) then go ahead and set up an appointment with a local allergist instead of going to the pediatrician; however, keep in mind for some insurance companies you will need a referral from your pediatrician.

My family has learned that while being prepared for food allergies is very important it is equally important to build other’s awareness on the topic of food allergies and how to both avoid and handle reactions. This article I wrote gives an overview on this topic so please read and share to help spread awareness to help all of those with food allergies.

Photos of Sarah below: First is during her visit to the ER and then back to herself at Christmas!