Posted on: Sat, 05/28/2016 - 11:08am
mom1995's picture
Joined: 11/09/2004 - 09:00

Smell Reaction

I have searched high and low on information for reaction to the smell of peanuts/ peanut butter. Only to find several Dr's stating how it is not possible. I am posting this today because I know out there some where others have this question. While I am no doctor I am the mother of a HIGHLY SERVELY Allergic 20 year old. (You can see my other posts for other stories)

On Tuesday at 1pm my cell phone rang (at work) and on the other end was a very scared young lady. When she called me it had been aprox 20 mins since the inital exsposure. She works for a grocery store and in the fish dept. Has worked for this company for three years and been in this dept for just over two months. On Tuesday the sushi dept decieded it was time to make a dipping sauce that is peanut butter based. They prepare it by putting large quanities in a crockpot and adding other ingredients.
The first smell of it she held back the urge to throwup. She then spent 10 mins tring to figure our why the fish dept smelled like peanut butter. The moment she went threw the door way to the prep area she could not hold back the need to vomit. And so began the hour long retching.

We stayed on the phone as she made her way threw the store found a manager and tried to explain what was going on. They know about her allergy but really did not understand what was happening. Neither did we.

She was not having an anaphylactic reaction but her body was revolting. We talked for a bit more and then the decision was made that she needed to go to the ER. The next choice that only she could make was she drove herself. We stayed on the phone the entire time. She arrived at the ER and filled out her forms cause they made her and then was taken back. I stayed on the phone as she told her story to the doctor and she gave her some meds to stop the reaction.

By this time I had driven home, woke my husband, packed a bag and made the choice to drive two hours to where she was. Once I arrived we were in the ER another two and half hours. For a total of 5 hours.

We were given two scripts, one for the nausea and the other for a steroid. We did not understand what the purpose of the steroid was and after reading the side effects she did not want to take it. On Thursaday she called me agian to tell me she was not holding food in and that she was still very sick. I recommended she go see her regular doctor. She did. Turns out the steriod was to stop the reaction and help the body get over it. That would have been great information when signing out of the ER.

Today is Saturday and she called me again today to tell me she is still sick, weak and really having a hard time with fluids.

So I am here to say YES you can have a reaction to the smell. Her body thought she had been exposed and it revolted. While she did not have an anaphylactic reaction she is suffering pretty serve after effects of her event. I have tried to help her understand that her body has been put through a tramatic event and she will feel this for quite some time to come.

Posted on: Mon, 05/30/2016 - 11:57pm
Panda's picture
Joined: 07/16/2003 - 09:00

I feel your pain and am so sorry you and she had to go through that. I hope she heals and feels better soon!
My daughter and I had a similar problem years ago when she was about 5 years old. We were at an outdoor "Trunk and Treat" event (our church's answer to trick-or-treating) in the Atlanta area and they had a little stand that was boiling and selling peanuts. We thought/hoped she would be ok since it was outdoors, but, not so. There were only a few people eating the nuts but they were dropping shells everywhere. We watched whom she had contact with, none of the kids cared about eating the nuts, they all wanted the candy! However, within about 15-20 minutes, she started rubbing her itchy nose and I noticed her starting to pull for air so I tucked her in our car, gave her the Benadryl and got out of there!
There was another time at her pre-school when they had a collective family luncheon and a good percentage of the kids had PB&J. There were four long folding tables and they had all of the peanut butter kids at one end and my kid clear at the other end. Before she could get through half of her lunch, she started rubbing at her nose (always her first sign when smelling the "offender") and I threw everything back in our bag and out the door before giving her the Benadryl.
We are very fortunate that my daughter does seem to be "growing out of" her allergy, in that she can now sit at the same table as someone eating a pb sandwich without feeling any ill effects. But even at 18, with her last allergy testing done 10 years ago, she refuses to be retested because her reaction was so severe, painful and traumatic.
I hope your daughter is able to convince her supervisor to provide the accommodations necessary for her allergy since they were able to witness her reaction. Best of luck!

Posted on: Sat, 06/04/2016 - 4:09pm's picture
Joined: 06/21/2013 - 11:03

Answer: Question of the Week: Answered!
Every week, answers one of the questions posted in our community.
Our Answer:
Thank you for reaching out to the community with your story. We are so sorry to hear that you daughter went through something so scary! Just as you mentioned in your story, many physicians believe that allergic reactions to smell are a myth.
However, this does not mean that the smell of peanuts can’t lead to something else. As doctors like Dr. Antony Ham Pong remind us, “If a peanut allergic person breathes enough of the peanut protein in the air, the person can have a serious allergic reaction, asthma attack or anaphylaxis.” When a person with a peanut allergy smells peanuts or peanut butter, it could mean that they are at risk for an airborne reaction.
So how do we combat this? The suggestions on the Internet are plentiful, from practicing mindfullness to getting a peanut service dog. Of course, your daughter should look for a solution that will best suit her life.
We hope this information helps. We also reached out to our Facebook community with your question, and you can see their responses here.
Take care!

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