This is a blog about our life with allergies. I have two sons, ages 3 and 19. I was lucky to have two healthy pregnancies. The 19-year-old never had any allergies, not even environmental. The 3-year-old had a first reaction at 10 months. This came out of the blue and there is no history of any type of food allergies in our families as far as we know.
The news of my son having allergies is still sinking in. Like all loving parents out there, I want him to have a happy childhood. I started this blog to share my thoughts, personal experience and information along the way.
A few personal facts and first allergic reactions:
- my first son, who has no allergies, was breastfed for 3 weeks only and was bottle fed for the rest of his babyhood.
- my second son, who has multiple food and environmental allergies, was breastfed until he was 2 years old.
- son #2 had a few minor reactions with his first foods but we didn’t really pay attention to them since food allergies were not something we were concerned about or considering a possibility at that time.
- his first concerning food reaction was at 10 months with a very small drop of peanut butter on bread. Reaction and symptoms noted: hives showed up on his mouth and face.
- he was first tested for allergies, with an allergist, at the age of 1. These tests confirmed a peanut allergy only. Everything else they tested for (most common food allergens) was clear.
- we thought he was going to outgrow the peanut allergy because his reaction, although concerning, was not “anaphalactic”.
- at 2, he started feeling ill after eating half a nectarine. He vomited and was breathing fast. I thought it was due to a cold. I suspected pneumonia or croup and drove him to a local medical clinic. By the time we got there, he was in respiratory distress and the doctor did a 911 call and my son was ambulanced to the local children’s hospital. He was misdiagnosed with “asthma attack” and given puffers. I don’t blame anyone for this misdiagnosis. His symptoms were very similar to an asthma attack and the ventolin did help relax the muscles in his airways and increase air flow to the lungs. We left the hospital the same day.
- just before he turned 3, he ate red lentils and his face, mouth and eyes swelled up with hives. This was after one bite of daal (red lentils). After our experience with the nectarine, we didn’t take any chances and called 911 for help. We had the epinephrine injector with us but were scared to use it. (I need to use it next time, no choice.)
- a week after the last red lentil episode, he got re-tested at the allergist. This time they tested for legumes and a bunch of other foods. The test results showed he was still allergic to peanuts. In fact, the reaction to his arm was a lot bigger and swollen this time. The test also showed he’s allergic to birch tree, pollen, dust, tree nuts (with the exception of almonds), lentils, chickpeas, green peas, and some fruit from the plum family when they are eaten raw. We know for sure not to give him nectarines (we learned that the hard way!), but I need to check for peaches, pears, plums, cherries, etc. I remember him having cherries last summer and he was fine.
- during this last visit, the allergist explained that what he has is Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS). Although this is typically a mild food allergy in people who have spring allergies due to birch and tree pollens, a small percentage of people can have a severe reaction if they eat these foods. Also, if the person continues to eat the allergen food, the reaction can/will become severe (for example, if my son accidentally eats a pea, from a soup let’s say, he will feel some type of reaction and that’s when needs to stop eating it. If he was to continue eating it – like with the nectarine – his reaction would get worse. But if he stops eating it right away, there should be no need for a shot of epinephrine. I guess we’ll need to see with each situation.) OAS is related to a bunch of foods including legumes and some fruit. This explains why some allergies “spread” to so many foods.
- the immune system seems to react more strongly to a food allergen 1) as the allergic child grows up and 2) with each subsequent reaction to the same allergen. This scares me. Also, with OAS, an allergic person can be fine with one particular food, and one day become allergic to it and have a reaction. This scares me too. It feels like for now, an adult has to be watching vigilantly every time he eats.
- My husband told me I was making too much of a deal about the allergies in front of him and he’s right. But it’s hard not to freak out. I’m trying to not make too much of a deal about it in front of him now. He’s not the one responsible for his own life right now, we are.