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Nut Challenge for Severe Nut Allergy Sufferers

Below is a true story from a mum, Jennifer who’s son is severely allergic to Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Kiwi, among other things, who has been lucky enough to be part of a nut challenge.  This will hopefully give hope to us all that one day our children will be free to live a life they were born to live.

Our Allergy Story.

The rate of children who develop allergies has been on an alarming rise for years but how many parents test for allergies first when offering their baby new foods?

My son was roughly 1 years old when I offered him a small piece of toast with peanut butter.  It didn’t pass his lips, he wasn’t interested. Soon after, I noticed a blister on his bottom lip.  I was puzzled as to it’s cause, I was uneducated and unaware of food allergies.

Weeks later, I mentioned this to his GP who said that my son could be allergic to nuts and he should see an Allergy Specialist.

In the weeks ahead whilst waiting for an appointment, we had quite a serious allergy episode with kiwi fruit at a playgroup. Within seconds of only touching it, Tyler developed red blochy marks on his face which soon developed into swelling welts. Thank goodness he didn’t eat any.  Within minutes I could barely recognise my own son’s face in the revision mirror of the car, his eyes had closed over. I drove straight to the closest doctor and after a dose of antihistamine and a cool bath he recovered, yet it was a good 24 hours before the swelling went down.

Finally at the Specialist, Tyler had a prick test for food allergies.  It lit up like a Christmas tree.  Yes, Tyler was allergic to kiwi fruit, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, egg yolk, seafood, cats, rubber & latex and who knows what else that wasn’t tested.

We equipped ourselves with the necessary tools of life, Antihistamine, Epipen, medic alert bracelet.  I was vigilant and everything that came near him was on my radar, it had to be and still is.  We educated ourselves, family and friends. We attended seminars, searched the net, gathered information and as he grew up, we taught Tyler well on being independently alert.  Disappointingly, I found my own family the most ignorant and challenging, they just didn’t get it and it became very frustrating.

The challenges of starting school came and at that time our school was not prepared for the surge of children coming through with multiple allergies, nor do I believe they fully understood the dangers or condition. The time had come for an immediate change of attitude and a well prepared plan of action to be put in place.  I remember visiting the school with a few other mums for a meeting with teachers who wanted to hear our stories.  They listened attentively but it was when I showed them a photo of my son’s back during a prick test that the message really hit home.

The years flew by and in 2010, Tyler’s specialist spoke to us about a programme he was doing, a nut challenge.  After a prick test revealed 3 nuts out of 12 with a very low point score, this allowed him to participate.  His theory was that if a child could successfully eat nuts that he was not allergic to, it could reduce the severity of the higher scoring nuts that he is allergic to.  This was an exciting yet daunting experience. Up until this time we avoided nuts like the plague and now he was about to be faced with the enemy!  Under the watchful presence of his Specialist and much needed reassurance, Tyler participated in a long, gradual and safe challenge of actually eating 3 nuts. Success! No allergy whatsoever!  This was such a big day for us as it was the start of something we never thought would happen.

Tyler continued to eat these 3 nuts on a daily basis until we visited his specialist again 12 months later.   In June 2011, he had another prick test to see if there was any improvement, had our specialist’s theory worked and would the challenge programme continue for Tyler?

It did! The majority of nuts had come down in numbers, there were still some that remained very high but overall we were seeing improvement.  Tyler was now able to take the next step, another nut challenge with 2 more low scoring nuts.  Success! We could hardly believe it. We smiled all the way home!  The programme continues….

Living with allergies is not an easy road for the child or the parents but it can be managed well. Tyler is still allergic to many of the foods on his original list but in relation to the tree nuts, things are definitely improving and he is now eating 5 tree nuts which is an incredible achievement. It has opened up a whole new world for us and brought us much relief, joy and hope for the future. Our Specialist is currently working on a vaccine for nut allergies and we are hopeful that this will be successful and therefore change the lives of millions of people who have food allergies all over the world.

 

Jennifer Ennis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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