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Peanut Allergy - Advice on living with

  1. #1
    mel_g20 is offline Registered User
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    Peanut Allergy - Advice on living with

    My 3 year old son has just been diagnosed with a peanut allergy. He has to carry an Epipen at all times in case he has a severe respiratory reaction, preventing him from being able to breath.

    In the past reactions from coming into contact with peanuts has been hives, swollen eyes, vomiting and pains in his throat/stomach. There is no way of predicting the severity of any future reactions.

    I am interested to know how other parents cope with caring for a child with an allergy like this, and what precautions they take to avoid reactions, especially when they are out of their immediate care (i.e. at a friends, or school).

    What we have done so far:

    - we have removed all peanut products from our home, including anything which may contain only a trace of peanut
    - school have been told and have an epipen for him
    - he has been told to refuse all food offered from anyone but me or our helper.

    He is just getting to the age where he wants to go on play dates without me. I have realised that I will now have to start educating the parents of the families he is visiting on what not to let him eat and also what to do with the Epipen in an emergency.

    I would love some advice and examples of what other parents have done to ensure their childs safety and to feel confident in leaving them in the care of others.

    Thank you in advance

  2. #2
    Canucker is offline Registered User
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    Hi mel_g20,

    While I can't say I have a child who has a peanut allergy, I have a number of friends whose children do to a similar extreme as your son - and you have done all the steps they also did in the past.

    Teacher friends of mine work in schools in Canada that are NO NUT ZONES and I know Discovery College (ESF) has the same policy (don't know what other schools have the policy in HK). Ask the school your son goes to now if any other students have the allergy and I would look into asking them to make it a NO NUT ZONE as well.

    You have done a great job so far - educating your helper, teachers, friends, parents, etc and keeping an epi pen with him at all times. My friends have said it can be really frustrating at first but after a while it becomes "common knowledge" among their child's friends parents and while they are always on alert, their kids go to birthday parties, etc where the parents don't serve anything with nuts.

    As for Halloween - if you have any friends travelling to Canada in the near future, there is a chocolate factory that is 100% nut free (parents lobbied to keep it open a few years back) and they make mini chocolate bars that say right on the packaging "Made in a Nut Free Factory" (or something to that affect). You can find the candy at the local grocery stores (Safeway, Superstore, Loblaws, Costco).

    Cheers.

  3. #3
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    carang is offline Registered User
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    BEWARE of most asian restaurants as peanut oil is very commonly used for cooking!

    i would find someone here, or at home, that can write in chinese, "absolutely NO nuts, peanut oil etc or my child might die..." to show to restaurants when you order.

  4. #4
    Jo Bowd is offline Registered User
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    My son (now aged three) also has a peanut allergy. In addition he has allergies to dairy and egg. He was formally diagnosed at one year, but I thought he was allergic from a few months old.

    We took all the same precautions as you. I have cookies and muffins in the freezer, that I can have just in case we have a playdate, or party invitation. My son gets a deal where he gives me all cake, chocolates or candies that he may be given (at parties) and he get's stickers instead.

    I found a series of story books useful and gave extra copies to playgroups we have attended. The title relevent to you would be "Allie the Allergic Elephant: A Children?s Story of Peanut Allergies."

    You can do a google search and buy it from various online sources.

    Your son's kindergarten/school may find it useful to have very clear and explicit guidelines regarding when to adminster oral antihistamine or the epi-pen.

    This would be in the format of an Authorization of Emergency Treatment. This is a form for you and/or the allergist to fill out that explains the symptoms of an allergic reaction and the recommended treatment. A sample can be downloaded from the Food Allergy Initiative. They also had several other excellent sources of info.

    Lastly, I also ordered my son tee-shirts to reinforce the message. You could make them yourself. I ordered mine from an Australian company online. www.allergykidzware.com.au They are really good quality and my son has been wearing his for the last year!

    Good luck. It's really difficult not to get neurotic about it.....

  5. #5
    tstmum is offline Registered User
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    My two-year-old also has a peanut allergy. Very scary the first time he had a severe reaction (hives, swollen face) but fortunately prompt treatment in hospital resolved it fairly quickly. We have taken similar steps to mel_g20 above, ie, removed all nut products from the house, informed his kindergarten, learnt how to use the Epi-pen (helper included) and told all the parents of his friends that he sees frequently (who have been fantastic, I might add, and will absolutely not serve nuts to children other than their own). So far he is usually accompanied by a parent or helper to playgroup and playdates, etc, but I am also worried about when he is unaccompanied.

    I have become an obsessive reader of food labels in the supermarket. But the thing I get really frustrated about is when you are in a restaurant/cafe and ask (for example) whether the muffin contains nuts. An answer of "no" and I go ahead to order - only to find flaked almonds or pistachios on top!! I'm pretty sure he doesn't have a problem with these nuts, but I'm avoiding all to be on the safe side at the moment.

    Carang's idea of getting the something translated is great - I'll go ahead to ask a friend to do that for me and take it everywhere.

    The other thing we did was ask the pediatrician to write a letter confirming that my son has been prescribed an Epi-pen for peanut allergy and that he should carry it at all times. Hopefully this will help to avoid any hassles with security and customs when we travel, but the pediatrician has still heard of people having problems carrying Epi-pens when travelling. I would be interested to know if people have had any such issues when travelling.

  6. #6
    Jo Bowd is offline Registered User
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    Whenever we travel overseas with our Epi-pen the doctors sticker applied to the outside of the box has been good enough. At Hong Kong departures they ask to look at the boarding card and make a note of it.

    Regarding the tree nut allergy. It may be useful getting your child tested for tree nuts. My son was diagnosed as being allergic to tree nuts (in addition to all the other stuff) at one year. He was retested at two and a half and had dropped the tree nut allergy.

  7. #7
    tstmum is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jo Bowd View Post
    Whenever we travel overseas with our Epi-pen the doctors sticker applied to the outside of the box has been good enough. At Hong Kong departures they ask to look at the boarding card and make a note of it.

    Regarding the tree nut allergy. It may be useful getting your child tested for tree nuts. My son was diagnosed as being allergic to tree nuts (in addition to all the other stuff) at one year. He was retested at two and a half and had dropped the tree nut allergy.
    I kept the box with the prescription sticker on it for this reason (and also to keep the instructions with the pen, just in case), so pleased to hear you have no hassles so far with travelling.

    The pediatrician has recommended testing for tree nut allergies in a year or so (apparently the blood tests are more accurate when the child is a bit older), but to avoid all nuts where possible in the meantime.

  8. #8
    hknanny is offline Registered User
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    I am a nanny and have looked after a child who has severe allergies to nut and dairy products. She has an Epi pen with her at all time. You can find in Olivers a chocolate from Kinnerton that is made in a nut free factory.
    You will have to teach your son that it's better to refuse something to eat from somebody who might not be aware of his allergies. keep sweets and treates for him at all time at home, so he doesn't feel different or deprived. Do educate your friends about his allergies, what is contamination ( and I think that is when accidents happen) and the emergency plan in case of a reaction. I know for ex that the safest restaurant in HKG for mine was Mc Donald as they use vegetable oil. Make sure when you order in a restaurant that you speak to somebody who understand the importance of your demand. They need to be 100% sure about the rest of the staff in the kitchen. if in doubt, ask to speak to the manager. Read every single label.. Nut is easy to avoid... let me tell you that dairy is a nightmare as hidden everywhere under lactate! Keep a letter from the doctor for the Epi pen to be able to fly... avoid all tree nuts... easiest thing to do. Good luck...

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