When Mackenzie was a little girl, we learned that she was allergic to peanuts. Her physician told her mom and me about the dangers of exposing her to peanuts, and it worried us enough that we have been incredibly diligent about making sure that she doesn’t come within a mile of a peanut. Our diligence had paid off and Mackenzie had been safe from peanuts, and their hidden danger.
Cut to Halloween of 2015. Mack is now seven, and is pretty well aware that peanuts can be bad for her. None of us realized exactly how bad. In a hurry to go from mom’s house to our house, Mackenzie grabbed a few pieces of candy from her earlier trick-or-treating and scarfed them down, like only kids know how. In the car, she started to complain about an upset tummy, and not feeling too well. By the time she arrived at our house, we wondered if she had a stomach bug. That was, until she started itching. Itching all over her body. We gave her a quick dose of Benadryl, hoping that her itchiness was from being at the zoo, or the dog. The Benadryl didn’t work, and we soon realized that her whole body was covered in an angry red rash. Then, came the trouble breathing. I knew that this was serious business, and we had to take action quickly. I did one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do as a parent, and gave Mackenzie a shot with an Epi-pen. Within ten minutes of using the Epi-pen, all of the symptoms were gone. No more hives, no more itching, no more tummy ache, and no more labored breathing. The cause of all of this? One little peanut butter filled chocolate.
As the adults in Mackenzie’s life, we all understood the danger of her exposure to peanuts, but never did we think we would see it first-hand. If we hadn’t been prepared, one peanut butter chocolate could have turned into a major emergency. It was a scary evening, but from the experience we all have a better understanding of what Mackenzie’s reaction to peanuts looks like, and more importantly Mackenzie has more awareness of the foods she eats.
Food allergies are on the rise. As a parent to growing children it is important to know some of the common food allergy trends when introducing new entrees and snacks for your children. And it is important to recognize the symptoms of an allergic reaction, so that you can react quickly, like we did, and avoid a serious medical emergency.
Food allergies can not only be a nuisance, but a serious health risk to your child. Though the allergies can sometimes be hard to pin-point to a specific food, there are common food allergens that should be considered first. The most common are:
- Tree nuts (e.g., cashews, almonds and walnuts)
Proteins within these foods cause the allergic reaction when your child either consumes them, or in severe cases, comes in contact with the food. The body reacts to the food by mistaking it as an invader.