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Old 25 March 2009, 08:15 PM
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Phantom Phantom is offline
Join Date: 20 May 2008
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 682
Vanishing Need advice for food allergies/anaphylaxis

I could really use some advice, and I just know that the Snopesters will come through.

DS1 has had a suspected nut allergy since toddlerhood. We've kept him away for nuts for years with only a few accidental exposures. He gets an itchy rash after consuming nuts. He commented once that his mouth felt funny too, so I'm concerned that the reactions are getting worse. He saw an allergist earlier this month, who confirmed an allergy to peanuts/tree nuts and perscribed an EpiPen. We're trying to get into the habit of carrying it around. I have one set in my purse and there is another at school. (Bless them, they insisted that we get one even before we had him formally tested.) I'm working on making sure that other caretakers carry the other set of EpiPens around.

I developed an allergy to sunflower seeds while pregnant with DS2. I have had a handful of accidental exposures since then, and my reactions are getting steadily worse. Sunflower seeds "hide" in multigrain breads and bagels. Ironically, I ate a nutrition bar that had sunflower seeds two days before my allergy test. (I was peeved because there was a "possible allergen" list instead of an ingredient list, and surprise, sunflower seeds weren't listed. (They were in a picture that I had overlooked, though.) My tongue swelled and my throat felt a bit odd. I usually take Benadryl but I was told to not do so for three days before the test, so there was nothing to do but wait it out.

I tested as allergic to other items such as dust mites, which doesn't surprise me, because I have asthma as well. I had the scratch test and injections, but apparently the only way to get a true test for sunflower seed allergy is through a blood test. (I'm guessing that it's a rare allergy.) I'll get the results in a week, but it's obvious to me that I'm allergic. Thankfully, I've been given an EpiPen in the interim.

So, now I have to carry around two sets of EpiPens. (DS1 has EpiPen Jr so we can't share, and I would rather carry two sets than have something catastrophic happen and both of us need them.) They are different colors, and I'm trying to get separate distinct cases to avoid confusion.

Obviously we have to screen food ingredients much more carefully. (DS1 has shown no reaction to products "made in a facility" that contains nuts, but we're taking no further chances.) We shop at Whole Foods, which does a good job of labeling food and I know they have 'special' food such as gluten-free food.

I've been told in no uncertain terms to inject DS1 and call for an ambulance if exposure is suspected, but my allergist (different allergist) gave me no instructions on what to do if I have a reaction. He said to wait and see what the test results show, but I just had an accidental exposure. He also said I might be able to take Benadryl for a reaction, but DS1's allergist said that there is a tide turning against this and I should only use the EpiPen for him. I'll hopefully get more answers after my test results come back.

Does anyone out there have advice on living with an anaphylactic reaction? Any pitfalls I should watch out for, other than the obvious?
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Old 25 March 2009, 09:07 PM
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Arriah Arriah is offline
Join Date: 15 August 2005
Location: Everett, WA
Posts: 3,663

I have general sympathy, but no specific advice. I'm also carrying the epis for my pineapple allergy but fortunately, I haven't had to use them yet. I carry benadryl too though, and I've taken that a couple of times when I've been exposed incidentally. (pizza place that I think may have gotten some pineapple residue on our pizza and when I was in the presence of a large quantity of freshly cut pineapple) It's really a pain.

Did the doc say why the tide is turning against using the benadryl? When I've been exposed to but not consumed any pineapple I have been able to prevent the gasping for breath with it and I'd rather not stress my heart and go to the ER if I can avoid it with a couple of little pills.

Last edited by Arriah; 25 March 2009 at 09:15 PM.
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Old 25 March 2009, 09:15 PM
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Mama Duck Mama Duck is offline
Join Date: 22 October 2001
Location: South Texas
Posts: 12,151

Benadryl has always worked for me. However, you probably need to take 2-3 times the regular dose. That may be why the allergist said not do. It can be easy at those levels to overdose. I think you're safe with Benadryl. It's always worked for me. And see what your GP says as well. EpiPens are more effective and with lower doses. So, here is my completely irrsponsible, shouldn't follow advice. When you have a reaction, use your Epi Pen and wait to see if you require further medical attention. That's what I do and I haven't had to visit the ER yet. But then I use Benadryl since I haven't carried around an Epi Pen since high school.
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Old 25 March 2009, 09:38 PM
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lynnejanet lynnejanet is offline
Join Date: 17 December 2003
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 3,466

What I have been told about the benadryl/ epipen decision is that it depends on the severity of each reaction.

If you have any swelling of the lips, mouth, throat of face - ANY - use the epipen. If you have any confusion, use the epipen. If you have any trouble breathing, use the epipen.

For all other reactions - hives, itchiness, vomiting - use the benadryl. If the benadryl is not enough, you can always use the epipen, too.

In my individual case, there is one exception to the swelling=epipen rule. I get hives at the back of my throat, which make swallowing difficult, but they haven't spread (yet). For that, benadryl is still effective. I've never had to take my epi, thank god.
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Old 25 March 2009, 10:19 PM
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RivkahChaya RivkahChaya is offline
Join Date: 14 July 2006
Location: Indiana
Posts: 12,275

Out of curiosity, does anyone happen to know whether liquid Benadryl gets into your system faster? Would it benefit an adult to use liquid Benadryl, even though it tastes awful, and you need several teaspoons?
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Old 26 March 2009, 01:41 AM
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Zorro Zorro is offline
Join Date: 02 May 2004
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 10,943

My son's allergist told me that, when in doubt, use the Epi-pen. She said there's nothing in it that'll hurt you, even if there is no anaphylaxis, you have to go to a hospital immediately after using it, anyway, and better a little bit of epinephrine when you don't need than the alternative.
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Old 26 March 2009, 02:51 PM
Aud 1 Aud 1 is offline
Join Date: 05 October 2005
Location: Missouri
Posts: 7,163

There's a reason you and your son got different advice. You're bigger, have larger airways, and can better realize and articulate what is happening to you. I wouldn't worry too much about the differences in recommended treatment.

I can certainly sympathsize with having allergies off the main list. I like that they highlight or list seperately milk, eggs, tree nuts and peanuts (there are more but these are the ones I need to worry about with DD) but peas have snuck up on us on more than one occasion. Peas are evil.
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