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My four year old son has had really one major anaphylaxis reaction. He has also had other reactions from time to time like hives, or runny nose when he eats something that he may have been allergic to.

The anaphylaxis reaction was when he was only 5 months old. At that time, I was nursing him and really did not know much about allergies. The day before, I fed him some cereal for the first time with milk-based formula (the same brand used by my older son) and he had some slight redness by his lips…but I did not think anything of it and thought it was related to introduction to solids. The next day, in an attempt to supplement with breast milk, I gave him a four ounce bottle of formula. Within 1-2 minutes of drinking the entire bottle, he projectile vomited the entire contents of the bottle across the room (the vomit literally shot across the small room and hit the wall 5-6 feet away.) His whole face went red and he kept coughing and what appeared to be gasping for air…I screamed to my husband to rush over because I did not know what was going on. He broke into hives all over his face. Things happened so quickly that we just rushed into the car to take him to the hospital because I didn’t think we could wait for an ambulance. I actually thought my son was going to die. It was at the emergency room we learned from the physician that he had had an allergic reaction most likely, and to see an allergist (she suggested soy formula which he took well to). When I took him to the allergist his severe milk allergy was confirmed. But we not prescribed an EpiPen® at that point.

About two and half years later Kyle had an allergic reaction to peanuts, but we did not realize it was an allergic reaction to peanuts until he was tested by the allergist a week later. I had come home from work and Kyle looked different. His eyes looked very swollen and almost sunk into his head that is how puffy they were. My husband indicated that he had not eaten anything unusual – the same foods he is used to eating to avoid any milk contaminants. I learned a few days later that my son was helping his grandfather shuck peanuts that day. When I took him to the allergist his severe peanut allergy was confirmed and we were prescribed an EpiPen®.

I am amazed at how much ignorance there is about allergies, but if people are not aware or educated, then they will be as ignorant as I was before I lived through it my son. I am always amazed at how many people think that the allergy is no big deal, and that perhaps if I feed the allergen in small increments, my son will grow a “tolerance” to it.

I carefully read ingredients of all food labels. His food is limited to only those items that we know are “safe”, while trying to introduce him to new foods to expand his food offerings. We also carry the EpiPen® and Zyrtec everywhere we go religiously. We also limit where we eat when we go out to only those restaurants where we know the ingredients are safe (where we know or have spoken to the chef).

Sharon K
Rockville Center, NY