Tag: asthma

Update on Food Allergic Reaction Yesterday

 

Many of my reader’s saw my post yesterday on my Facebook page about our son’s recent food allergic reaction.  This past Tuesday night I made a new vegan type of soba noodles for our family as a side dish.  The label read “vegan” and the only allergens on the ingredient label were “soy and wheat.”  Our youngest son Christopher ate his entire bowl of Soba noodles and 10 minutes after dinner he said to my husband and I that his stomach was really itchy.  My husband and I believe there were most likely trace amounts of eggs and/or dairy in the new product I had just cooked.  There is really no way to tell however and I’m researching 3rd party companies to test the ingredients of the noodles that were consumed.

We lifted up his shirt and he was LITERALLY covered in hives on his stomach and back.  I’ve never seen so many hives on a little guy!  What was strange about this reaction was that is was just topical hives.  In the past, when Christopher has accidentally been exposed to eggs or dairy he has unfortunately experienced more serious anaphylactic symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, itchy/scratchy throat, etc.  Not to discount all of these hives but as an asthmatic it was clear that he was not having any breathing difficulties and we treated immediately with 25mg of Benadryl.  We continued to monitor Christopher throughout the night, and although it took about 5 hours for the hives to dissipate, thankfully he was not showing any signs of anaphylactic shock.  In addition to the Benadryl every 6 hours I also had so Prednisone on hand and I gave him 10mL of that in addition to half of an adult dosage of Zantac which also acts as a histamine blocker.

After a long night, Wednesday morning arrived and Christopher seemed to be in the clear.  He was receiving dosages of Benadryl every 6 hours and I had consulted not only a nurse on staff at U of M where is treated specifically for food allergy, but also his local pediatrician.  At about 9am yesterday the hives started reappearing FULL force over the course of 2 hours and at that point we made the decision to drive him to the hospital.  I just want to stress that he was not showing any signs/symptoms of anaphylactic shock.  We decided to take him to the ER because we couldn’t get an appointment with his pediatrician until 4:15pm and we were concerned that the Benadryl was not property controlling the histamines.  We feared that the hives may eventually lead to additional symptoms such as pulmonary and other anaphylactic symptoms.  On the way to the hospital I spoke to my friend on the phone who was an ER doc and he suggested we administer the Epi-pen which we did prior to reaching the ER.

I believe the details of this experience are critical in helping others understand how to properly react during an allergic reaction, hence the long length of this blog post.  And again, this reaction was completely different from all others before.  Upon arriving at the ER we were taken back to a room almost right away given the nature of having administered Epi-Pen.  At the ER Christopher was given 50mg of Prednisone, 25 mg of Benadryl, and Zantac (1/2 adult dosage I think 10mg)…his vitals were good and he did not need an IV.  Christopher was an amazing trooper and a BRAVE little boy despite his discomfort.  After being in the ER for about 20 minutes his hives began swelling all over his face again (right eye started to swell up a bit), hives on back, chest, arms, buttocks, legs, etc. began to get worse.  After consult again with ER doc we decided to administer another Epi-Pen.  Our AMAZING nurse administered the Epinephrine through a syringe and Christopher said it “wasn’t as bad as the Epi-Pen.”  He was really in good spirits.

The 2nd dosage of Epi decreased the topical symptoms and swelling and we were discharged from the hospital after about 4 hours since his symptoms were under control and we live less than 2 miles from the hospital.  Needless to say, about 2 hours post-discharge hives began to appear again but not like before.  Our ER doc who was wonderful as well stated that we should expect the hives to come and go on and off for days…closely monitor him and continue prednisone, Benadryl and Zantac to taper drugs off for the next 3 days.

Last night was another long night as Christopher was covered in itchy red bumps, some of which were swollen, and others were just dots on his body and face.  Poor little guy.  Cortisone didn’t really help with the itchiness unfortunately.  We’re now on day three of the reaction and he’s in good spirits and I would imagine today will be more of the same…onset of hives followed by them coming and going as his body continues to flush out the histamines.

Anyhow, the last 2 days have been a whirlwind of emotions for us as parents and for both of our little boys.  Christopher has been such a brave little boy and so tough and strong!  I’m so impressed with his positive attitude through this entire ordeal and his eloquence during such a scary situation.

I’ll continue to post updates on my Facebook page as the days continue….I apologize for the rambling and any possible typos in this post as I rushed to get this post out in between caring for our little guy.   Additionally, I placed a complaint with the FDA regarding the product I fed the boys for the possibility of undeclared allergens…the verdict is still out on this until we receive the results of the chemical tests of the product.  I didn’t want to mention the name of the manufacturer of the product that I believe caused the allergic reaction until more facts are discovered relating to the ingredients.  Furthermore, I do want to state there is always the possibility that Christopher is allergic to another ingredient in the noodles that we have not been aware of.  Ie. perhaps he developed or has a new allergy that we do not know about…

The Anxiety of Raising Kids with Food Allergies

stress-ballstress-relax

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary ANXIETY  anx·i·ety \aŋ-ˈzī-ə-tē\

is a noun and the simple definition is “fear or nervousness about what may happen.” 

In our hectic modern-day society parents are extremely busy multitasking from day to day and trying to fulfill work, school, extracurricular and social schedules.  How do we fit everything into just 24 hours a day?  Simply raising children that do not have any health problems or disabilities can be a challenge for most parents throughout the world.  After all, we all want our children to grow up and become successful contributors of society, don’t we???

This raises an important point about how to deal with the anxiety of raising a child or children with food allergies and how to properly manage this day-to-day worry?  My boys CAN DIE if they ingest only a trace amount of dairy, nuts or eggs!  Do I have anxiety that relates to caring for our children?  HECK YES I DO!   

I’m by no means a medical clinician, but I am a MOM and I have had to learn how to cope with my constant worry about my children’s health and safety for over 8 1/2 years now.

People deal with anxiety in many different ways, from not acknowledging it may exist, to proactively managing it by either exercise, meditation, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, food, yoga, etc…to each is his/her own.  The point I’m trying to convey in this post is that as common as it is to have anxiety from caring for a child or loved one with life-threatening food allergies, it is also just as important to (1) Acknowledge you do worry and (2) Learn how to deal with it in a way that works best for you.

I have been an athlete for as long as I can remember.  I competed as a ski racer for the better part of my life, and competed in golf and tennis throughout my youth and still enjoy these activities today.  For many summers in my mid 30’s I trained hard and raced in many triathlons.  I love the dedication it takes to train really hard and reach your performance goals!  It’s simply in my DNA to be a competitor.  Most of my family members competed at high levels during one point in their lives.

Whether I’m mountain biking or trail running with our dog Scout, these activities have helped me to manage my anxiety in a positive way, and in general, become a better mother to our two food allergic boys and a better wife to my husband.  I’m a busy body and could not properly function without exercise being a huge part of my daily life!

I often wonder what works for other parents that are caring for anaphylactic children?  How do you manage your anxiety?  If you have food allergies yourself, how do you manage the stress?

During the better part of my 20’s I was an avid Yoga-junky!  For some reason, I got away from regular yoga for about a decade or so.  I have had lots of athletic-related injuries, and not to make an excuse, but it just got away from me.

Last Saturday, my husband took it upon himself to sign me up for a local yoga class online.  He said to me, “You’re going and you’ll really enjoy it.”  I’m so fortunate that my husband listens to me, as I had been complaining for a few weeks about how I needed to get back into yoga but just couldn’t find the time…blah…blah…blah…excuses!

By Jason signing me up for that class I am now completely hooked again!  I love everything about it from “centering,” to working on perfecting my alignment with different poses, focusing, meditating, strengthening, and working on me and my mental health!  I might add, I was literally dripping in sweat for the ENTIRE hour and a half class!  Thank you Tiffany — by the way!  Yoga for me is a nice supplement to all of the other athletic activities I enjoy regularly!  Besides, let’s face it, I’m NOT getting any younger and need to invest in such practices for my physical well-being and my sanity in general!

I understand that exercise and yoga are not for everyone.  (ie. I still play the piano from time to time and I obviously love to cook!)

Whatever you may do to manage your anxiety as a person with food allergies, a caregiver of someone with food allergies or none of the above, it’s important to find what works best for you.  It may be a combination of things.  Please do yourself a favor and take care of yourself so you can be the best you can be for yourself and for your loved ones!

Namaste

~Erika

yoga-2

 

New School Year with Food Allergies

Emergency Action Plan

It’s hard to believe we’re in the final weeks of summer here in Northern Michigan and preparing for our children to start back up with school again after Labor Day.  In many parts of the country, kids have already gone back to school.  With these thoughts in mind, I thought it would be helpful for all parents of children with food allergies, to discuss how I prepare my boy’s school (ie. principal, new teacher, administration, and classmates parents) for a safe school environment.  I have to add this is a “general overview” of how I work with the school to ensure a safe and productive school year for my children.  I have refined this process over the last 6 years and this is just a summary.

Since our oldest son is now going into 3rd grade I somewhat have my “Back to School Process” refined.  Our youngest will be entering first grade this fall.  I start this process each spring by scheduling usually a meeting with our school principal to discuss the upcoming school year and how we can work together to ensure the safety of my boys while at school.  I ask for teacher recommendations for the following school year and we discuss what teacher he and I feel may best meet the needs of my boy’s “unofficial 504 plan.”  Since our boys are in a private parochial school, we do not have the legal need to have a 504 plan.  Thankfully our principal was an administrator in the public school system for many years and is knowledgeable about how this process works to ensure the utmost safety of our children during the school day.  At the end of the meeting last spring our principal and I decided to touch base via email in June to discuss teacher options for my first grader since there was going to be a new hire.

Now that we are 3 weeks out from the first day of school I have not only communicated with the principal again but with the office manager.  I have to note, it is crucial to have a wonderful relationship with the staff who run the office and essentially the “nuts and bolts” of the school.  I always approach the school by stating that “we can work together” and put lots of the responsibility on myself and my boys to educate others at the school instead of making threatening demands.  This will get you nowhere and you will not build an alliance with any of the staff if you approach food allergies in a threatening manner!  It’s important to “Kill everyone with kindness.”  I know it’s a stressful situation because your child’s safety is at the hands of someone other than yourself during the day.  You have to put your emotions aside, and work with the school administration from a “Team perspective.”

Ok, I got off on a bit of a tangent…now that I have reached out to the principal again and scheduled another meeting to discuss accommodations for my boy’s classrooms for this school year (ie. nut free classroom, signage, note home to parents discussing there is a child in the class with food allergy, table sanitizing procedures, staff epi-pen training, lunchroom procedure, emergency action plan procedure, etc.), it’s also important to contact your child’s future teachers to schedule an in-person appointment to review everything.  I forgot to add that I also reached out to each teacher about 6 weeks ago to let them know that my child will be in their classroom next fall and they have life-threatening food allergies.  I asked them if they would be available a few weeks before school starts to sit down with me and discuss classroom safety procedures, emergency action plan, etc.

It is crucial to schedule an in-person meeting with the teachers.  Depending on your relationship with administration you may or may not want to have the principal and administrators present at the meetings with the teachers.  Since we are at a very small school, I do not feel the need to have administration present every fall when I meet with the teachers.  However, each school may have a different policy and it’s important to know what approach works best for your individual situation.  I have to note, if there is a new teacher at the school hopefully the principal has discussed food allergies with the teacher prior to your initial meeting.  If not, I may consider having the principal present at this meeting.

In a nutshell, when I meet with each teacher I come extremely prepared with 2 red folders.  Each folder has my child’s name written on the outside of it in bold letters, a picture of my child and the words, “FOOD ALLERGY INFORMATION.”  One folder is for the teacher, another similar folder will be for a “Substitute Teacher.”  In the folder I have a few simple handouts ie. Food allergy checklist, food allergy facts, teacher and family’s responsibilities, safe snack list,  and of course each child’s individual “Food Allergy Action Plan” which is to be posted in a visible spot somewhere in the classroom next to epi-pens.  I also have this posted in the main office and lunchroom.  So to review, I have a total of 6 epi-pens in the school for each child.  Each epi-pen bag also has several Benadryl chewable tablets.

I will also give the teach a gallon sized zip lock bag with non-perishable food for each child in case their lunch should be compromised (ie. milk gets spilled on their packed lunch).  I also offer to be in charge and organize of all classroom parties and discuss with the teacher the possibilities of limiting snacks during parties to fruits and veggies since they are much healthier.  Usually the teachers are completely on board with this since they don’t want students to have too much sugar during the day.  Also, my boy’s friends LOVE my vegan cupcakes and I usually offer to make these for classroom parties.

After meeting with my boy’s teachers I always meet separately with the office staff to review everything, restock epi-pens, hang up emergency action plans, etc.  Also, I have a template letter that I have used in the past that I send to the principal for editing that will get sent to all of the parents of students in my boy’s classrooms prior to the first day of school.  This letter basically explains the severity of food allergies and informs them there is a student in their child’s class with a life-threatening food allergy.  It is one page and talks about the importance of telling your child that food allergies, although very serious, they do not make the child any different from your child with regards to enjoying sports, school, friends, etc.  The kids are no different and should not be treated any different from other kids.

Moreover,  I ALWAYS make it a point to speak to the janitorial staff and discuss proper sanitization of the lunchroom tables.  Our principal does a wonderful job of training all of the staff members and highlighting the importance of sanitization procedures in the lunchroom to prevent cross-contamination.  We are very LUCKY I might add.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to have an excellent relationship with your administration!

This was a very brief overview of my pre-school preparation to ensure a safe school year.  I hope this is helpful to you and good luck getting ready for a wonderful new year of school for your children!

Know Your Child’s Asthma Action Plan

image

As a parent of two children both with Anaphylactic Food Allergies and our youngest has asthma, my husband and I sometimes take it for granted that we have our youngest child’s asthma is managed well.

Our youngest son Christopher has asthma and thankfully has not been hospitalized for it in over 2 1/2 years.  He is on a daily steroid inhaler Qvar for management and Xoponex for his rescue inhaler.  Additionally, we have these meds available in liquid form for his nebulizer, which we proactively use, when he gets sick and we start to notice breathing difficulties.  Just to note, we also ALWAYS travel with the Neb, as you never know when you will need it and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Last night was a rare occurrence where Christopher started coughing spontaneously after we put him to bed around 9:30pm (Friday was a day off from school so we let the boys stay up later than normal.)  I gave him 2 puffs of his rescue inhaler which didn’t help the cough subside.  We think the cough stemmed from any of the following: our dog, dust mites, the wood burning stove (which has not been a trigger in the past), or skiing all day outside in the fresh air…who really knows? It’s a mystery…

Anyhow, 20 minutes after the first inhaler we gave him 2 more puffs then looked at his Asthma Action Plan.  I have to be honest, my husband and I haven’t looked at it in awhile, and we were really confused when we read it.  I think we have been so focused on knowing the Food Allergy Action Plan inside and out, we just haven’t reviewed the Asthma Plan. And, like I said, Christopher’s asthma has been relatively well-managed over the course of the last couple of years.

Anyhow, we deduced that we could give him up to 5 puffs in a row of Xoponex in his inhaler chamber a total of 3 times. These could be 20 minutes apart and substituted for 1 Neb treatment every 20 minutes. If, after the total of 3 rescue attempts, the breathing didn’t get under control then he would need to be taken to the hospital.  We gave him the Neb for the 2nd round and his color didn’t look good- his face was really red and his heart was racing, which is typically how he responds to the Neb treatments of levalbuterol, but the coughing didn’t slow down.  The coughing actually became more frequent and he was coughing profusely every minute or so.

We took him outside for fresh air, which sometimes works for my husband’s asthma when he is struggling to breath.  That helped temporarily until the coughing spasms kicked in again.  We then went to the 3rd round of inhaler treatments which didn’t cause a change.  At that point, I quickly packed an overnight bag for the hospital and started getting together food for the hospital since we usually take our own due to the food allergies.

I have to include that we spaced the above rescue treatments out more than 20 minutes and tried to calm Christopher down and have him focus on breathing “in his nose and out his mouth.” He told us repeatedly that his breathing was “OK” and just the cough was bothering him. He is usually really good at letting us know whether or not he is in the “RED” asthma zone, which means heading directly to the ER.

At about midnight, my husband Jason, noticed we had Children’s Diametapp in the medicine cabinet. We gave Christopher 2 tsp, which is the recommended dosage, and the coughing and spasming stopped 5 minutes later! We couldn’t believe it!  He finally fell fast asleep!  Although both Jason and I were up all night monitoring him.

Thankfully, last night didn’t end up as a trip to the ER and we were able to get his breathing and coughing under control.  Again, I don’t know what to attribute Christopher’s asthma episode to last night.  Perhaps Christopher has a viral bug that caused the rampant coughing and breathing challenges?  He has been coughing a bit this morning so I’m now convinced he has a bit of an upper respiratory cold/virus of some sort.

In conclusion, I have to stress, if your child has food allergies and asthma, be mindful of both Emergency Action Plans and review both frequently!  Last night’s episode was an example of why you should always be prepared and knowledgable of your child’s health action plans.  Thankfully, we were able to get our little guy’s breathing and coughing under control!

Happy Friday and have a Happy Easter!

~Erika