Sunday, August 18, 2013

What anaphylaxis feels like

The other day, a sweet kiddo asked me if I had ever had "anaphwaxis" like him when his mom and I started talking in the health food store. I was able to tell him yes, unfortunately, and we showed each other our Epi pens. It was an innocent moment where we connected through food allergies.

Food allergies can be scary and, unfortunately, anaphylaxis (life threatening allergic reactions) can occur from food. You can read symptoms all day long, however, I thought I would give a glimpse of what anaphylaxis feels like in real life. The only way to stop anaphylaxis is with the use of an epi pen. 

While an epi pen can be scary, don't hesitate its use. I've hesitated before and it is more of a mind thing. My allergist also had some thoughts too. I should have epi'd but hesitated. Never again.

What not to do during an allergic reaction 
A few years ago, my family and I went on vacation. We were eating dinner that had some cross contamination of fish, from a serving spoon, on my meal. I learned this after the reaction.

At first, my throat just felt like it tickled. Then, I started coughing. The cough got pretty severe and I got up to use my inhaler. Not knowing it was a food reaction, I excused myself. I started feeling really strange. No energy nor strength. I sat down and had a strange feeling. Later, we realized my blood pressure dropped. I should have used my epi pen. I didn't as I didn't think it was that bad.

I did use Benedryl and my inhaler but hesitated with my epi-pen. My allergist had other thoughts and I should have used my epi. I promised I would the next time.  

What to do if you think you're experiencing an allergic reaction
In college, I had a piece of candy during finals week from the library. I had it before and didn't think anything of it. However, the bag (which I didn't see) had a warning on it that I didn't see. I ate the piece of candy and within 15 minutes I started to feel funny. Hives started popping up and I started coughing. I am not talking just a cough that can be eased with water. This cough took my breath away and made me feel out of breath. I was miserable within a matter of minutes. A food allergy friend, who was working at the library, helped me epi and called for help. Within minutes, I started to feel better. Thank you epi pen! I spent lovely time in the ER and was watched after my anaphylactic reaction.

The difference between the two?
I acted and used my epi pen. I also followed my allergist's plan and used it as I had two systems (Coughing/throat irritation and hives) affected. Yes, the other time had two systems too, but I hesitated.

This isn't intended to scare anyone. It's to educate and tell you that an epi pen shouldn't be scary. It's lifesaving!

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