Adult \"Allergic Children\"

Posted on: Tue, 03/30/1999 - 11:23am
Anne P's picture
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Joined: 03/30/1999 - 09:00

It is wonderful that you parents are so concerned and cautious in support of your allergic children. I am an adult peanut allergic person. My parents chose to ignore my allergy, because they were likely in denial and the info that you all have found was not around when I was a child (I am 30 years old now). If I had been protected from exposure as a child, my reactions to peanuts would not be life threatening as they are now. With each exposure, my peanut allergy grew SIGNIFICANTLY more serious. I have not been able to find any fellow adults to share info with. An allergic adult has different issues to deal with, e.g., how do you handle cocktail parties with peanuts everywhere? I've had reactions from wine glasses covered in peanut oil from a host's hands. Any adults out there with a peanut allergy? I would love any feedback!!!

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Posted on: Tue, 03/30/1999 - 11:39am
tracy's picture
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Joined: 02/03/1999 - 09:00

Anne,
It sounds like your parents just didn't have the information we have now... I feel very fortunate to have this support group and a lot of knowledge about the dangers of this allergy, although I admit at times, I'd rather bury my head in the sand than think about the hard stuff for my child.
There are peanut-allergic adults on this web site -- they chime in from time-to-time. For us parents, it's very helpful to hear your experiences and how you deal with reactions.
I hope you are successful in staying away from peanuts... this must be very stressful for you since you've become even more sensitive. (And if you don't mind my asking, how many reactions did you have as a child? How did you find out you were allergic to peanuts? Was there any experience or knowledge on the part of adults while you were growing up, or were you left to fend for yourself?)
--Tracy

Posted on: Tue, 03/30/1999 - 12:03pm
Anne P's picture
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Joined: 03/30/1999 - 09:00

Tracy, thanks for your words of support. I guess I sound rather harsh toward my parents, but it's because when I was a child, they not only did not help me stay "safe" from peanuts, but actually allowed my siblings to consume peanutbutter around me at home. They honestly thought it was "all in my head" and only really took me seriously when I was first hospitalized.
To answer your questions... my mother says that my first exposure was as a toddler. She was making dinner and my twin brother (who does not have the allergy) and I were in our highchairs. She gave us each a cracker with peanutbutter to munch on while she cooked. We were at an age of just starting to eat solid foods (close to age 2). She turned around at some point and saw that I was swelling up and covered with hives. She actually thought I was choking. I believe the ER doc diagnosed me with a peanut allergy without needing to run tests. It runs in my family -- I have an uncle and cousin who are peanut allergic.
In preschool, although my mother warned teachers and parents, my reactions were more mild than they are today. I would eat something with peanuts (almost always a cookie), vomit and have a stomachache, and break out in hives. If I came in contact with peanuts (e.g., on another child's hands, on a desk, or just by being with other children at lunch), my eyes and face would swell. I would take benadryl (back then it was prescription only).
I would estimate that I had about 10 reactions from eating peanuts as a child, and countless topical exposures (on airplanes, in lunchrooms, etc.) as a child. The first seriuos reaction occurred in highschool, again from eating a cookie. I was about 15 and ate a cookie from a Pepperidge Farm box that was contaminated. Within about 2 hrs, I lost my vision, could not breathe, and started to act almost as if I was drunk. My mother took me to the pediatrician, not realizing how serious the reaction was becoming. By the time I got to the doc's office, I was in full blown anaphylaxsis with no blood pressure. The doc told me I had to carry an Epipen at all times and that each time I injested peanuts, my allergy would become worse. Since then, I have been in shock about 5 times. Biggest enemy is Chinese Food restaurants and cookies and candies, which I now avoid. Every allergist I talk to says that fatal reactions in children can be avoided by reducing exposures early on.
As far as how I dealt with the allergy, no one believed me, no one knew about it, and most people, including teachers, thought it was a joke and that I was "making it up for attention." I recall one parent of a friend giving me a handful of Cracker Jack and telling me it was safe to eat when I was about 7 yrs old (of course the popcorn is mixed with peanuts!). When my mother explained again that this was not safe for me, the friend's mother explained that she thought I wouldn't react if I didn't know the peanuts were in the food, ie, as if it is a mind over matter allergy.
Please feel free to ask me any questions about my childhood experiences and present allergic condition. I am an attorney and I have started my own direct advocacy program to EDUCATE the public. I am attending the FAN conference in Baltimore, MD on 4/10 and am looking forward to meeting more peanut allergic people. Thanks again for listening.
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Posted on: Wed, 03/31/1999 - 12:06am
tracy's picture
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Joined: 02/03/1999 - 09:00

Anne,
I'll be at the Baltimore FAN conference too, so perhaps we'll run into each other.
From your description of being allergic as a child when there wasn't a lot of information available, I found myself getting a little stressed, because this is my worst nightmare... that people will think my son's allergy is all in his head, or that it won't be that serious.
Our allergist told us that one of his young patients GRANDMOTHER "decided" he wasn't really allergic and actually fed him a peanut butter sandwich. The child almost died.
People find it hard to believe that an innocent peanut can do so much damage. We still have that challenge to overcome. However, after reading your story, I feel that we have come a long way in getting the word out about the dangers. We need to continue getting the word out -- and focus on the seriousness of reactions.
I bet you probably had your first reaction a lot younger than 2 years old... my son started eating solids (regular food) before he was 1 year old, and now at 15 months old eats most anything (as long as I cut it up into small pieces).
Finally, FAN is advertising a study of twins -- you might check that out to see if you and your twin would qualify for it (assuming you have the time to participate, of course).
--Tracy

Posted on: Wed, 03/31/1999 - 2:13am
MaryM's picture
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Joined: 12/11/2006 - 09:00

Hi Anne,
Just wanted to let you know that I am an adult who is allergic to peanuts. I am 27 years old and I have known about my allergy since I was a kid (no idea how old). I always noticed that my throat would get scratchy whenever I ate peanuts or chunky peanut butter - so I never ate foods I knew had peanuts in them. It was never an issue at home or school growing up because I never really had a severe reaction and was not diagnosed as peanut allergic. I ate creamy peanut butter up until 2 years ago when I went into anaphylactic shock at a restaurant after eating 1/2 of an egg roll (small appetizer ones) and was rushed to the emergency room. I guess my allergy was mild when I was younger - I noticed it get worse as I got older (ie. scratchy throat plus a fat lip, itchiness etc.)
I hardly ever eat anything at a cocktail party unless my host knows about my allergy and has checked ingerdients, etc. Weddings are hard too. (Sometimes I eat before an event so that I can have a drink w/out getting too tipsy) I don't ever eat Chinese Food (or any Asian food for that matter anymore and do I miss it!). I absolutely NEVER have dessert at a restaurant (although I do eat cookies and candy as long as the labels have no mention of any type of nuts - although I am getting a bit more weary with all the new "may contain peanuts" labels showing up on candy I was once thought was safe)
I hope that helps a little.
Take care,
Mary
[This message has been edited by MaryM (edited March 31, 1999).]

Posted on: Wed, 03/31/1999 - 11:59am
Anne P's picture
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Joined: 03/30/1999 - 09:00

Tracy -- the world is far more educated than it used to be. For example, when I tell people about my allergy now, as an adult, I find that they are not as incredulous or belittling about it. I think the press really has gotten the word out thru groups like FAN and this website. The only advice I can give you for your child is to not let him feel embarrassed or ashamed when he gets older (esp. as a teenager). I used to sit around friends eating peanuts as a teenager and pray I didn't swell up. I was too shy to stand up for myself and educate my friends. When people make jokes today (it just happened yesterday in the law firm I just started working at), I say something like "Gee, I'm surprised you are reacting this way about my disability. If I told you I had diabetes, epilepsy or cancer would you laugh at me?" I'll look for you at FAN in Baltimore.
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[This message has been edited by Anne P (edited March 31, 1999).]

Posted on: Wed, 03/31/1999 - 12:07pm
Anne P's picture
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Joined: 03/30/1999 - 09:00

MaryM, thanks for your story. I was really surprised to read that you used to actually be able to eat peanuts/peanutbutter until you were 28. I miss Chinese/Asian food too. I tried for the last time a few years ago when I ate an eggroll at a Chinese restaurant I had eaten at for years. I had the same frightening experience as you -- ER, shock, etc. I learned later that this restaurant (and many others) make eggrolls using peanutbutter as a "glue." I agree with your annoyance with all the peanut warnings -- although it's GREAT that the word is out there and companies are being careful with labeling, they are putting the warning on ALL products, regardless of content. For example, I happily ate a candybar the other day that I have always eaten, and then happened to read the label that said "contains peanuts." It doesn't or I would be very ill. So, I guess it's a double-edged sword. Take Care of yourself!
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Posted on: Wed, 03/31/1999 - 12:26pm
Lisa M's picture
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Joined: 03/07/1999 - 09:00

Anne and Mary,
Thanks so much for writing your experiences. I look forward to reading more from you. You will be able to help so many of us help our kids have an easier time growing up.
Lisa M

Posted on: Wed, 03/31/1999 - 12:31pm
brenda's picture
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Joined: 01/22/1999 - 09:00

Unfortunately, another thing that has helped raise awareness over the years of this serious allergy, is the deaths due to it that have been reported in the media.
Pretty much everyone who I have mentioned to that my child has a pnt allergy takes it seriously because they remember the death that happened here in RI. A student from Brown Univ. was eating chili in a resturant in Providence and died within minutes because their secret ingrediant was peanut butter. It amazes me that so many people remember that story because it happened over 10 years ago!

Posted on: Thu, 04/01/1999 - 1:15am
Patti's picture
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Joined: 01/27/1999 - 09:00

There was a death near me that happened about 4 years ago, before I moved here. Everyone remebers it so I think they take me a little more serious too. A high scool girl (asian) was eating at a chinese restaurant. She was assured that there were no peanuts in the food that was prepared for her. She did not carry an epipen and died. They think they had cooked something in the wok before hand with peanuts. It was a big lawsuit. I tried searching for articles on it but came up with nothing. I actually met people who were with her in a mall near here. I started talking to them about peanut allergy (I don't remember why), but there faces dropped. They started lecturing me on things and were so informed and thats when I was told they knew this girl. It was really hard for me that day, because they were so insistent and so genuinely upset still about this incident that it made me go home and hide for a couple of days again. I had to find that balance and venture into the world again, but it was hard to hear about someone who had died from it. Anyway people do take me more seriously because of that.
Patti

Posted on: Fri, 05/21/1999 - 1:45pm
amraff1's picture
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Joined: 05/17/1999 - 09:00

I am 26 years old 27 in July (people have told me every 27 years your body changes). I have always loved peanut product, Mr Goodbar, crunchy peanut butter etc. I have become very allergic I got a 6 on the IGE and my allergy came up as 969, whatever that means. I too am teased. People are asking me "oh so this suddenly came on?" They laugh and I feel like a label checking freak. Can I drink beer? I seem to have a reaction to this as if I were eating peanuts. My only other conclusion is maybe I am allergic to Hops. How about microwave or movie popcorn. Crushed Red Pepper? I have no idea how to deal with this. On top of it I teach second grade. Food is constantly around. Today I used Softsoap antibaterial gel and my hands swelled immediately. When I called they told me no peanut oil but there is a fragrance which they didn't know the ingrdients. Do fragrances have peanut oils.
How do I deal?

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