A Totally Unexpected Allergic Reaction

As moms go (especially first time moms), I like to think I’m pretty relaxed. I let W do quite a bit of exploring, and while I’m certainly not going to let her experiment by sticking a fork in an electrical outlet, I’m not against letting her learn from experience that if you jump on the couch, you risk falling off…and it hurts. I don’t lose sleep over that every possible negative outcome. I’m not a “what if” mom. There’s one thing I’m a little neurotic about, though, and that’s Benadryl. I pretty much carry it everywhere. This, despite the fact that W is 19 mos old and has never shown any sign of being allergic to anything.* Still, carrying Benadryl is pretty much old hat for me (I always have some of the pills on hand in case I have an allergic reaction), so while I realize it’s probably an unusual thing to have around at all times, I purchased a bottle of the children’s version and started carrying it as soon as I started W on solids.

*Which is fabulous…and lucky. Both her dad and I are allergic to nuts, and my allergies in particular are quite severe; I have to carry an Epi-pen, and have had to visit the ER more than once.

Funny thing, though…after carrying an unused bottle of Benadryl around for 19 months, I ended up having to break it out last night. W ate salmon for the first time, and apparently she’s REALLY allergic to it. She tore into her dinner and gobbled down several bites very quickly, but then she stopped eating and got a funny look on her face (not unlike the funny look I get on my face when I accidentally eat something with nuts in it; it’s sort of a vapid, staring-off-into-space look that my face adopts as I ponder the impending allergic reaction). She signed all done and asked to get down from the table. Then she started asking to nurse, which is weird, since lately she’s only been nursing before bed and first thing in the morning. While this all happened very fast — within a minute or two of eating the salmon — it was really obvious that she didn’t feel quite right. Moments later, red splotches appeared all over her face, her eyes swelled up, and she started wheezing.

Thank goodness for Benadryl. We’re house sitting out in the boonies right now, and the nearest hospital is 17 miles away. I dosed her up and we headed toward the ER, figuring that either the meds would work and we’d be able to turn around halfway there, or that they wouldn’t work and at least we’d be partway to the hospital by the time we realized we had a real emergency on our hands. We lucked out; the Benadryl cleared things up, and we were able to turn the car around after about 10 minutes.

Anyway, there’s a reminder in all of this that even a kid who doesn’t appear to have any food allergies can pop out with one all of a sudden during the early years of life, and in some cases, the reaction can be quite severe. Particularly when the nearest hospital is more than a few minutes away, Benadryl can be a lifesaver.

 

Have your kids had allergic reactions?

 

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ashley @ C is for Cockerham
    Sep 04, 2012 @ 09:50:30

    No allergic reactions so far, but I guess I should move the bottle of Benadryl from my kitchen cabinet to my purse.

    Reply

  2. Jem
    Sep 04, 2012 @ 10:30:44

    No allergies (that I know of) here but Isabel had a funny reaction round her lips to strong cheese when she was about 7mo. I gather it’s quite common.

    I’m one of those “won’t happen to me” mums so haven’t got anything like that in. I think I have paracetamol and that’s it!

    Reply

  3. Dorit
    Sep 04, 2012 @ 10:39:35

    Same. Scary story. Thanks for the heads up, and sorry you had to learn you were right in such a terrifying way. But good thing you were equipped.

    Reply

  4. Supermouse
    Sep 04, 2012 @ 11:38:15

    No allergic reactions to food so far (boys are 3.5yr)but one of them seems to have developed hay fever recently. Neither my husband nor I have food allergies, but we have other allergies (hay fever, animals, dust, mildew and certain antibiotics), so it would not be totally weird if the children end up with similar.

    We also both have asthma, so it was not a surprise when the boys developed asthma-like symptoms when they got a cold (at 6mos old). They have continued to have that reaction to colds/upper respiratory infections, but luckily, do not seem to show signs of asthma in any other circumstances. Thanks to our long experience in dealing with asthma for ourselves, we have been able to keep on top of it for the children, and they haven’t had to go to the ER (yet).

    Reply

  5. Rachael French
    Sep 04, 2012 @ 12:47:55

    Wow. Coincidence – Z. demonstrated a severe peanut allergy for the first time this weekend. Almost the same – hives all over, swollen eyes, swollen EARS of all things, but no respiratory symptoms.

    We had no Benadryl, but that’s what they gave him at the hospital. We have a bottle now….

    Reply

    • SquintMom
      Sep 05, 2012 @ 08:10:08

      I always get swollen ears when I eat nuts, too. Do you guys have to carry an epi pen, or just benadryl? So sorry you guys have a peanut allergy; that’s a tough one, especially with the ubiquity of peanuts! FWIW, watch out when you fly; you may want to ask for a peanut-free flight which helps a little, but don’t forget that prior flights won’t have been peanut-free, and there will likely be nuts strewn on the seat, on the floor, etc. While Z is little, watch out for picking those up and popping them in the mouth…

      Reply

      • Rachael French
        Sep 05, 2012 @ 16:23:36

        Pedi gave us an epi pen, but cautions that, for Z, she thinks that Benadryl should be our first line, followed by the epi if it’s not getting better. He’s still little for the epi pen, and if you use adrenaline, I guess the next thing is to go to the ER to make sure you don’t need to be treated for the adrenaline’s effects.

      • SquintMom
        Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:33:21

        I think Benadryl is always the first line (I’m not a doctor so can’t say for sure, but it’s what I’ve always read and is what I was told). Epi is rough on the body. However, in my case, if I have a really bad reaction, I can start to swell up in my throat so bad that I can’t breathe (or swallow), and in that case, I don’t have time to try Benadryl first!

        Incidentally, if you have to use epi, you should ALWAYS go to the ER immediately; the adrenaline is temporary and very often the allergic individual will need more epi and/or antihistamine for a breakthrough/secondary reaction.

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