Monday, April 2, 2012

The Dreaded Food Allergy

See this kid?
He had an incident about a week ago. It all started with a fruit and nut bar sample at Costco. I didn't think much about trying the sample, seeing as Buddy has been exposed to about every nut under the sun. At almost 4, I naively thought we had escaped food allergies. Simply put: I was wrong.

We have now been ushered into the world of food allergies. After one bite of that bar, Buddy began to cry and complain that it wasn't going down to his tummy.  Twenty minutes later we were home, he was coughing, rubbing his eyes and saying that he no longer wanted to eat lunch, he only wanted to go to bed.  At that point, I discovered that his lips were swelling and that his eyes and entire face were beginning to break-out in hives.  This is when I reached for the Benadryl and called my doctor.  They strongly suggested that I go directly to the emergency room.  He wasn't in distress, so I packed up both children and we went to the closest KidsCare where I knew the pediatricians were good.  We were rushed to an exam room after one look from a nurse and a pediatrician. There, while they were monitoring his oxygen level, he threw up. This is when the doctor knew for certain that it was anaphylaxis and an epinephrine shot was ordered.  After the shot, we stayed for observation for an hour.  He responded to the shot fairly quickly and was almost back to normal by the time they released us.

I came home with the strict instructions to stay away from ALL nuts and to make an appointment with a pediatric allergy specialist. After making the appointment,  good old Google provided me with a photo of the food label that I needed. Our allergy doctor was pleased to have the list of ingredients since so many parents are unsure of what their child ate.

We did a skin prick test to see what in the ingredient list Buddy reacted to.  The culprit? Pistachio. The doctor recommends that we stay away from all tree nuts from here on out.  He didn't show a sensitivity to almond, but I guess it's better to stay on the safe side.  

Mostly I'm relieved that tree nuts are fairly easy to avoid, but I'm a little sad because of my love for nuts.  Of course, I'm so thankful that it's not gluten, milk, eggs, peanuts or any number of things that would be harder to avoid.

I'm am a bit anxious because of what it means for us going forward. One bite of that bar and now I get to be "that" parent that has to tell every person under the sun that my son is allergic to tree nuts and cannot be exposed to them.  I need to carry an epi pen in my bag and another at home, just in case. Now, I have to read every food label for warnings about traces of tree nuts. Just some of the fun things that I'm sure many moms out there are familiar with. 

It threw us for a loop for a little while, but we are adjusting to the idea. I'm so glad my cute, little boy is safe and well and that now we know how to keep him that way. 

Here are a couple of allergy resources that I found to be helpful in our research on allergies and the different allergy tests that can be performed:
Food Allergy Testing - This is a great informational sheet on who should be tested, what tests are available and how they are interpreted.
Allergy Testing- A more in depth breakdown of the difference between skin tests and blood tests.
Anaphylaxis- What it is and how to identify it.

Have a Happy Day!



  1. Ruby has celiac and can't have gluten. It took a while to get used to but now it's our new normal. People always say how sorry they are when they hear about it, but I feel like there are a lot worse things out there she could be dealing with. Switching up her diet is nothing compared to that. So glad you figured it out and that he's okay.

  2. I'm so sorry to hear that your son has a food allergy! We've been dealing with our daughter's dairy allergy since we discovered it at 9 months, and it hasn't been easy. I've become accustomed to carrying food around for her everywhere we go, since I can't trust that food prepared outside my home will be free of all forms of dairy (cheese, milk, and the worst culprit, butter). Thankfully, it seems like something she's outgrowing, slowly. Do you have any sense of whether this might be the case for your son? I certainly hope so! Poor boy.

    1. Unfortunately, according to the doctor, tree nut allergies are very rarely grown out of. I guess there is some chance though.
      I'm just relieved that tree nuts are fairly easy to avoid.

  3. We understand! My oldest has a peanut allergy ( found out when she was almost 2, she is now 7) as does my second (along with several other allergies). It is overwhelming at first but once you get the hang of it, it becomes habit. We've yet to have a serious anaphylaxic attack (fortunately only swelling of lips) but we still always carry our trusty epi-pens. Good luck and so glad he is ok!