Focus on food allergy, part 2: A MOTHER'S STORY

    Tuesday, 22 May 2018 18:56  Blog

In honor of National Asthma and Allergy Awareness month, we will share a series on food allergy focusing on everything from myths to personal stories of dealing with food allergy. Today we have a story written by Michele Benyue about her experience with a food allergy emergency. 

It was a typical Friday night and my children were asking for ice cream. Because of our oldest son’s food allergies, we always buy the same kind. I never thought to check the ingredients on this unopened container. It looked the same as always. Shortly after eating his scoop, my son told me he had a fat lip. He is 6, so I didn’t think much of it. I asked what he bumped his lip on and he said he didn’t bump it on anything. I took a peek and shrugged it off. A few minutes later he started coughing uncontrollably and telling me that maybe he was getting the flu because his stomach and throat hurt. It was in that moment that a light bulb went off. I asked him to come into the bathroom and I looked at his lips.

Not only were they swollen, but it looked like giant bubbles forming. I asked my husband to check the ingredients on the ice cream container. Sure enough, the ice cream wasn’t the same one I usually buy and it contained eggs. At that moment, my son began to vomit so I yelled to my husband to get the Epi-pen while I called 911. It was our first time having to use it. We felt uncertain and scared. As soon as the Epi-pen was administered, my son stopped coughing and the swelling on his lips went down a little. First responders arrived in under 10 minutes. At the hospital my son was given Benadryl and Prednisone and stayed for a few hours for observation. This was by far my worst mom moment. I was terrified and felt horrible guilt. I always read ingredients carefully but on this particular night I was exhausted and assumed the ice cream was safe. My assumption was the reason my son had to go through this. The reaction happened very quickly, though everything seemed like it was going in slow motion. My son is doing great now and I am working on getting over my guilt. I definitely learned my lesson and will always check ingredients carefully.  

Comments from Dr. Accetta:  Mrs. Benyue made a very common mistake: assuming that just because the name of a prepared food was the same, the ingredients were also the same. Always read the label!  We asked Mrs. Benyue to share her story because once the reaction started, she did everything right:  She recognized that her son was probably having an allergic reaction, she used the EpiPen, and then immediately called 911. She never hesitated and did not second guess herself! The other reason we asked her to write this story is to show not only how quickly the reaction occurred, but also to show how quickly the epinephrine injection worked.