I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk a bit about our family’s direct struggles with allergies which all started when our daughter Ella was 18 months old, early in 2016. Ella had developed a rash one morning, all over her back, stomach and limbs. Pretty much the only part of her that wasn’t covered in a rash was her face. Alarmed at this I took Ella straight to the emergency department of the Geelong hospital and she was seen to very quickly.
Although she wasn’t in any pain or discomfort the Doctor mentioned that he thought the rash could be an allergy to something Ella had eaten or touched. Immediately I thought of the peanut butter toast I’d fed her for breakfast but she’d had this many times before so surely that wasn’t the issue? The doctor mentioned that it could in fact be an allergy to peanut butter but we wouldn’t know for sure until Ella had food allergy tests done. Ella was given an antihistamine and booked in for food allergy testing later on that afternoon.
By the time the food allergy testing rolled around later that afternoon, Ella’s rash had cleared up completely and she was none the wiser to what she was about to experience. The testing involved a mix of skin tests and blood tests to which, very surprisingly Ella had mild reactions to peanuts, almonds, eggs, shellfish, strawberries and kiwifruit.
This was a huge surprise to us as Ella had never reacted before to any nuts or eggs (she’d never been exposed to shellfish as we don’t eat a lot of that kind of seafood). The doctor explained the food allergies can start at any age although are more commonly diagnosed on first exposure to a food, not set on in later life. As Ella’s immune system was young, the Doctor said there was a chance she would grow out of it by her teens but there was no guarantee.
Ella’s initial reaction to peanuts in the form of a rash would most likely intensify should she continue eating peanuts as well as the other foods she was diagnosed allergic to. Possible reactions could be anything from another rash right through to anaphylaxis. Ella’s diagnosis was devastating for our family. We would learn to cope with it but as her parents we weren’t going to be with her 24/7 when she started kindy or school, or went to friends’ houses to play. The thought of letting her out of our sights terrified us.
The Doctor gave us huge amounts of information to takeaway and naturally, being a concerned mother I turned to Dr Google when I returned home to see what else I could find out. I found the website foodallergy.org to be super beneficial and full of useful information for parents with children who have just been diagnosed. I also found a great video explainer on YouTube that is perfect for explaining food allergies to children. Ella was still a bit young to understand the video but we’ll show it to her when she’s older. Here’s the video…
After Ella’s diagnosis we had a steep learning which started with cleaning out the pantry and learning to read labels. It’s surprising just how many food items contain traces of nuts or eggs but that’s for another blog post.
If Ella’s food allergies weren’t enough my husband also suffers from severe hay fever and dust allergies but thankfully he has been living with those a while so we’re well acquainted in preventing and dealing with his allergies. I’ll share more on his allergies in a later blog post too.