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.

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Due to the COVID19 pandemic, people are trying to avoid going the Emergency Room unless it is absolutely necessary. New guidelines discuss whether it is absolutely necessary to go to the emergency room after an allergic reaction.

The treatment for severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) remains prompt use of injectable epinephrine (EpiPen, Auvi-Q, and generic epinephrine injectors). Typically, we recommend that after using epinephrine for an allergic reaction, you call 911 and go to the ER to get observed. I always try to explain that it is not the injection of the medication that requires the emergency room visit, but the allergic reaction itself. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening event. One dose of epinephrine, given promptly, usually will resolve the symptoms. However, sometimes as the epinephrine wears off, the allergic reaction can return, and this is the reason for going to the ER.

Knowing that people are hesitant to potentially expose themselves to coronavirus, and that they do not want to over burden the healthcare system, new recommendations for the use of epinephrine in anaphylaxis have been developed for use during the pandemic.

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