Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Part 1: Your Child has Food Allergies: Now What?

Welcome to the first part in my series of Coping with Food Allergies. These post are meant to be guides. They are not intended to replace medical advice. The information is my experience and is by no means all encompassing. There are many views and comfort levels when dealing with the issue of food allergies and I’m just stating one of those views. My goal is to help inform and educate people so they can navigate through this life changing diagnosis of a food allergy.

"Your child has a severe food allergy." When I heard those words I felt like the breath was punched out of me. We discovered this allergy over 6 years ago. I felt lost. How did this happen? What caused this? How do I keep him safe? Now what?

The first thing to do is breath. Know that you can get through this and that there are others to help you. There are many things to be done after a diagnoses. Here are a few things to consider doing to get you started:

1.     Work with a highly qualified pediatric board certified allergist.

Once you suspect a food allergy it’s important to get tested. The allergist can run test to verify the allergy. This is also a great place to start getting educated on how to handle a food allergy in your life.

2.     Carry 2 EpiPens

Your allergist should give you a prescription of an epinephrine auto injector. The most common name brand is EpiPen or EpiPen Jr. In our school district they are only trained in using this brand, so this is the only brand I will except when getting the prescription filled.  This medication can save someone’s live if they have a severe reaction, called anaphylaxis.  This will give you time to get to the ER for medical attention. You should always carry 2 EpiPens with your child at all times. You never know when a reaction will occur.

3.     Carry Benadryl (or other appropriate medication) for contact or mild reactions.

Some reactions can be mild, such as a rash or itching. Most people use Benadryl for those types of reactions and then just monitor the child to make sure a anaphylaxis reaction does not occur.

4.     Find a support group.

This was one of the best things I did for my sanity and education. I was lucky enough to have a local support group, but I also found a wonderful one on-line.  I’ll talk more about on-line resources in my next food allergy post.

5.     Educate family, friends, caregivers, teachers and of course yourself.

I cannot stress the need for education when it comes to food allergies.  The more you know and the more the people that come in contact with your child knows, the safer your child will be.

6.     Obtain a Medic Alert bracelet and have the child wear it.

I’ll admit I’m still working on this. In the beginning I didn’t see the need for this because my son was always with me. When he started preschool I bought one and he rejected wearing it. His skin is very sensitive and it really bothers him to have something like this on him. I didn’t push the issue because I felt he was dealing with enough. Now that he is older and I'm not always with him, I'm planning on getting one for him to wear.

Next week we will look at resources that have helped me and other families in our education about food allergies. 

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. The posts on this blog do not constitute medical and/or legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Always discuss individual health questions, concerns and medical issues with a qualified personal physician.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Monica, just what someone might be in need of - good, practical advice.