It was a normal Friday. Ballet in the morning for my eldest, back home in time for lunch and a midday sleep for my youngest. And then, on what was a completely standard day for us…. boom! My middle son is groaning and rolling around the floor. I call his name, he looks up and can barely open his swollen eye. His starts rubbing his face and I see hives have broken out over one side and around his eye.
His face is starting to go red and he’s starting to cry. My mind is racing as to what he is reacting to as I administer his antihistamine. He must have touched something and rubbed it in his eye and on his face. His face continues to swell and the hives spread until the antihistamine kicks in. I’m on auto-pilot now as I put all 3 kids in the car and drive to his Doctor. They rush him in and check his chest and airways – all clear. Phew, it’s ‘just’ a touch reaction and not too serious. It takes a few hours for his swelling to go down and 24 hours for his normal 3 yr old demeanor to return.
This was just last Friday. It’s been 2 1/2 years since we entered the world of allergies and while it gets easier to manage, the worry never goes away. Even with these ‘touch’ reactions, the fear is still real and frightening no matter how many times you go through it.
This week (15-21 May) is Food Allergy Week. With food allergy now affecting one in 10 infants and about two in 100 adults in Australia and with more than 170 foods known to have triggered severe allergic reactions, this week aims to raise Australians’ awareness of food allergy, especially life threatening reactions.
Australia has one of the highest incidence of food allergy and this is increasing. With no known cure for food allergy, awareness and education is so important as a severe allergic reaction can rapidly become life threatening and is a medical emergency.
For some of you reading this, the above experience is a familiar occurrence. Some of you experience a more severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) on a regular basis where you wonder if your child will make it. Some children will vomit until they are lifeless. In some people, even small amounts of food can cause a life-threatening reaction. Some extremely sensitive individuals can react just to the smell of foods being cooked or even kissing someone who has eaten the food they are allergic to. The severity of an allergic reaction can be unpredictable.
For others reading this, you may know someone who has allergies or you may not know anyone. You may only know that your school doesn’t allow your child to eat peanut butter sandwiches or take egg quiche for lunch. We appreciate your understanding and the support you provide by not taking that peanut butter sandwich to school. While we are madly trying to teach our children to not eat other people’s food or be aware of what it means to be an allergy child, we appreciate that you are helping keep our children safe by showing you care. We thank those who include our children – we understand how painful it is to source an egg-free cake but to see our little one’s face light up because they can eat the fairy cake makes us smile.
For local mums dealing with allergies, please come and join our Facebook group, Hills District Allergy Mums.