A few weeks ago, Lauren and Trent took our granddaughter Eve out for a treat. They went to a bakery and ordered a coconut cookie. They were assured that there were no nuts in the cookie. Eve took a bite. And within minutes her face turned red. Her body began to turn red. And she began to swell. Here eyes began to swell shut. And Lauren and Trent raced to a hospital ER where Eve was whisked into a treatment room and given a shot with an EpiPen. And things began to calm.
Many children of late are developing allergies. Eve has a peanut allergy. And now we know — a coconut allergy. And the allergy is serious. For a child or adult with such allergies, eating the wrong food can bring on life-threatening anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be triggered by foods (e.g. peanuts or shellfish), biting or stinging insects, medication (e.g. penicillin), latex or other causations. Anaphylaxis affects people differently. The airway is often affected, there is swelling, chest pain, low blood pressure, dizziness and in some cases the result can be fatal. Emergency treatment is essential. For parents of children with allergies, an EpiPen is standard equipment. I carry one in my briefcase – to work. Along with Benedryl (another potential antidote) and aspirin (see October 21, 2011). What you need to know about EpiPens is — the dosage only lasts for about 15 minutes. And then the allergic reaction resumes. We have friends who – when traveling – will carry 8 EpiPens for their child. Enough to get them to an emergency room. Apart from the ER or an EpiPen, there’s not much you can do when anaphylactic shock begins to set in. Benadryl (an antihistamine) can help but reaction time is usually much too slow for the sudden onset of anaphylaxis. If you have a child (or know someone) who has such allergies, the best thing is to carry an EpiPen — and know where the nearest ER is located.