Is that a hive? Eczema? Other unspecified rash? All of the above?
Having food allergies involves numerous changes to your lifestyle and approach to everything. Especially if multiple food allergies are involved.
After the months it took to get Shaun’s skin cleared up, and finally getting the laundry list of allergies he has, we spent the next several months in a panic every time he had a single hive or eczema flare.
What did we feed him?
Double-check all ingredients and packaging
Pace around with the Epi-Pen and watch for more or anaphylactic symptoms
We finally reached a breaking point. We consulted with Shaun’s allergist and she helped ease our minds a bit. Here is the big take-away:
Not every hive means anaphylaxis.
This is incredibly important.
Our allergist describes Shaun, like many others with food allergies, as a “hive-y kid”. Meaning he is probably just going to get random hives, sometimes for no reason at all. More than that, we will likely never know why he got that random hive, or what triggered it.
Shaun gets random hives (anywhere from 1 to 3 or more) almost on a daily basis! On top of all the normal levels of parental exhaustion, there would simply be no way to investigate and figure out the root cause of why he gets every single one of the hives he gets.
There’s good news in this though!
In time, you will learn your own situation and how reaction(s) present themselves. At this point, 4 years later, we can generally tell when Shaun gets a random hive, if it is truly random, or if he is actually having a reaction to something.
We are also fortunate that in Shaun’s case, he is not going to have an anaphylactic reaction unless he ingests something. So at most, we’re going to have to deal with his skin reacting (hives, eczema, swelling or some combination). But we shouldn’t have to Epi him for a contact reaction.
This is another HUGE reason that Linda and I constantly talk about teaching your child to self-advocate. We’ve practiced with Shaun since he was old enough to talk. Ways to describe how he is feeling if things are itchy, burning, prickly, bumpy, rough, etc. This not only helps him tell us when he is feeling those things but also helps us to determine the severity of the situation. This is an integral part of us figuring out when he is having a genuine reaction or when he is having a random hive or symptom that will pass either on its own or with minor intervention from us.
Early on, there is definitely a lot of frustration, worry, and anxiety over what’s happening, and why it’s happening. In a lot of cases, you won’t ever get an answer. The trick is balancing preparation, awareness, and responses to ensure that you’re able to handle whatever situation you’re presented with, in a way that’s best for everyone, and sustainable long-term.
Living with allergies is an art after all.
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