Tuesday, December 1, 2009

When in Doubt...use the Epi Pen



After our incident on Thanksgiving, we read about anaphylaxis and symptoms on FAAN and spoke to a nurse at our allergist's office. We found out that we should have used the Epi Pen Jr. for Brody's severe allergic reaction to milk last Thursday. We are thankful that he is alright, but we should not have used the albuterol (breathing treatment/nebulizer) to treat his breathing difficulty. We were told by our allergist's office that the albuterol (or inhaler) can "mask" the symptoms of a severe reaction, giving you less time to give the child the treatment he really needs, which is the Epi Pen (or can even block the airways in some cases). I praise God that this wasn't the case for Brody, but we definitely know now...

We learned a couple of things since this incident:

1. When in doubt...GIVE the Epi Pen: it can't hurt your child, but he could die if you don't give it and he needed it. We have one with us at all times, and we just filled a prescription to have one kept at my parent's house also. If there are ANY signs of difficulty breathing...GIVE IT!

2. After you administer the Epi Pen, go to the nearest emergency room (in our case, it would be Vanderbilt Children's). Let professionals who have the right equipment and medicine take care of your child (I even called my insurance company to make sure that the ambulance ride would be covered under our insurance plan). Things can go from bad to worse quickly and you don't want to be riding in your car if that does happen.
*You can administer a second does of Epinephrine after 10-15 minutes after the first dose, if necessary.

3. Have an emergency plan: we were looking at our son having problems breathing (wheezing, labored breathing, nostrils flaring, stomach sucking in, acting lethargic) and trying to make decisions on what to do. The environment was stressful. We needed to have an emergency plan so everyone was on the same page and there were no questions about what should be done. NO SECOND GUESSING!!!! Every minute (or second) counts when your child is having a severe allergic reaction. Please speak to your loved ones/caretakers about what to do if your child ingests an allergen and is in their care. Make sure they know that you WANT them to administer the Epi Pen and call 911.

Again, our Thanksgiving incident makes our heart sink when we talk about it and we hope that it never happens again, but if it does, things will be different and we will be confident about what action to take.

*One more thing (that we learned from this): if your child ingests an allergen OR you THINK he has ingested an allergen, the wheezing is NOT asthma, but a reaction from the food allergen...give the Epi Pen and follow the rest of the emergency action plan.

Take some time to fill out your emergency plan and talk to your loved ones about it. We wish that we did...but again, we are thankful that things turned out ok (it did scare us to death though).
We have decided to not have cow's milk in our house due to the severity of Brody's milk allergies. Brock (my non-allergic child) is switching to a milk alternative. Hopefully this will help avoid an accidental switch in cups, or little brother "stealing" milk :)

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