Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Allergy Awareness

Each year, the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America declares May to be "National Allergy Awareness Month." If you are like my family, you've already been suffering from an early spring, which brought out more blooms on flowers, trees, more grass and weeds...my house has definitely been suffering.

My youngest, Jonah, has severe asthma and allergies...not just environmental allergies, but food allergies as well. It becomes a whole new way of life when asthma and allergies enter the picture.

Before Jonah was even a year old, he was already showing so many sign of allergies, that I went ahead and had him tested. Of course, he had tons of allergies...but being so young, there was only so much we could do. The doctors kept telling us that he would outgrow them.

As he got a little older, he had such severe eczema that he was getting skin infections. Once he had learned how to scratch, it became a non-stop activity for him. It seemed like he just couldn't stop. Another trip to the allergist, another skin prick test and we found out that he was allergic to soy and peanuts/tree nuts. There was a question about beef and egg, but after a blood test, they said no.
At the same time, I had been told that I was allergic to soy, corn, and peanuts/tree nuts. not as severe as Jonah (he has to have an epi-pen), but still a pain. I spent almost 2 hours at the grocery store the first time, trying to find something...ANYTHING, I could eat. The food could not contain the allergens, or be cross-contaminated with them. That is the hardest part, because almost everything that is mass produced is cross-contaminated with peanuts. Manufacturers are supposed to wipe things down between food lines, but the reactions that I had and Jonah had proved that either they don't do that or it just isn't good enough.

Over time, we had learned as a family to adjust to this new way of eating. We had almost no packaged food, more fresh fruits/vegetables, meat from specialized places so their would be no injections of saline. Most people, even family, didn't want to eat with us because we were so limited in what we could eat (and allergy-free food isn't that tasty all the time). Luckily, I have a brilliant husband who started figuring out ways to make our favorite foods without the allergens. Sometimes it took a little longer, but just as good.

But Jonah was still having trouble...still having terrible eczema, so back to the doctor we went. This time, an allergen to egg was discovered. This left me scratching my head...how am I supposed to feed him without egg? Don't they know how many yummy foods have egg in it? But it did help his skin when we eliminated that from his diet.

Terrible eczema on
his forehead and
eyebrow
Knowing that I had a corn allergen and that his skin was still not clear, I asked to have him tested for a corn allergen. Just as I suspected, he was allergic. So now, we had to find food without corn, soy and egg...not to mention the peanuts/tree nuts. And did I mention that other people live in this house? There are two other kids with NO allergies! Jonah would sneak their food up to his room and eat it in the middle of the night. It was a real problem!


These are pictures of an allergic reaction Jonah had from just putting a piece of steak in his mouth. We later found out that the beef came from corn-fed cows.
He is almost 8 now, about to finish 2nd grade. Having these allergies all his life, he is usually quite aware of what he is eating. He will not eat anything at school that is given to him unless I have given the ok. There are still times that he eats what he shouldn't...but sometimes, I guess, it's worth it to him in order to get something really yummy!

The only way I found these things out was by being persistent, sometimes a pain to the doctors and allergists. When I got an answer I didn't think was sufficient, I would research it myself. Sometimes I would take the information I found to the doctor or allergist. Eventually, the allergist stopped listening to me so we switched to a specialist at a local teaching hospital. This is when we got the most help. If you or your child has symptoms or if you think something might be going on, I encourage you to talk to your doctor, make an appointment with an allergist or a specialist. Knowing what is going on is so much better than suffering with allergies!

2 comments:

  1. Yep!! You're living up to your blog's name "the worstest mommy".. (not really)
    Poor baby.. I'd probably do like he does, sometimes something yummy is worth it!

    Stopping in via the hop, we're connected in most places, I'll double check and follow were we aren't

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  2. Thanks for letting us know about National Allergy Awareness Month... My niece has a severe peanut allergy so I can empathize somewhat. Allergies are becoming so common these days... and so severe! :( Daily battle for you all...

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