epi pen on every reaction???

Posted on: Thu, 11/01/2001 - 10:52am
joeybeth's picture
Joined: 09/01/2006 - 09:00

We made it through Halloween fine but....tonight we went to our usual chinese restaurant which has recently undergone a change of ownership/management. Our three yr old is having a reaction as I type this. She is sitting in front of me with one eye swollen shut and a running nose. It took her about 20 minutes to react (the other reactions we have seen have been more immediate). We don't know what she could have eaten (probably cross contamination since she only had chicken). I have given her benadryl (and her sister who is also PA too just to be on the safe side). I am terrified of the epi pen. I have tried to get hold of her allergist but cannot reach him. She seems fine at the moment other than the swollen face and running nose. Would you all have given the epi pen right away? If so, please share your reasons with me so I will know better what to do next time. I am always so afraid that it's not really a reaction and the epi pen could hurt them. I know that sounds irrational but I am slightly afraid of shots. We havent' had to go through anything like this in over a year with either of the girls but it always catches me by surprise and I'm afraid I will do the wrong thing. Joey

Posted on: Thu, 11/01/2001 - 11:55am
Triciasmom's picture
Joined: 08/03/2000 - 09:00

My allergist told me to give the epipen if Patricia starts having breathing problems. But if it is just hives and swelling eyes or whatever, the Benedryl would be okay. But you have to watch to make sure that they don't start having breathing problems for several hours because secondary reactions can happen.

Posted on: Thu, 11/01/2001 - 1:08pm
DeeJay's picture
Joined: 07/05/2000 - 09:00

If this was my son, I would have given him the EpiPen and taken him to the ER. The runny nose doesn't bother me as much as the swollen eye. That's what happens when my son has a bad reaction, along with tons of hives and breathing problems. If I was hesitant to give him the EpiPen, then I would at least take him to the ER and let them check him out.
Do you have an EpiPen trainer that you can practice with? Also practice with expired EpiPens so you can be familiar with how they operate. From what I've read, if in doubt give the EpiPen and your doctor can counter-act it if he determines it wasn't necessary.
I don't take my son to any Chinese restaurants as they often cook in peanut oil or use peanut butter to hold egg rolls together.
I hope you can get over your fear of using the EpiPen because eventually your child will have to be responsible for using it, and you don't want her to be afraid to use it either.

Posted on: Fri, 11/02/2001 - 1:37am
joeybeth's picture
Joined: 09/01/2006 - 09:00

update: took chase to the doctor this morning with her eye still swollen shut. he did not believe it was caused by a reaction to the peanuts. he thinks it looks more like a bite of some sort (there are two tiny bitelike marks in the corner of her eye). i think he's probably right. still, it was quite a coincidence that it happened immediately after eating in a chinese restaurant. we will eliminate chinese restaurants from now on unless it's just my husband and i on a date or something. no sense exposing the girls to a possible risk. thanks for your input. i am always concerned about when to and when not to use the epi pen. i have not used it on a couple of other occasions when i probably should have given the degree of the reaction. some say give the pen immediately, some say give benadryl and wait and see, some say the epinephrine shouldn't be given in haste. it is confusing, especially in the midst of a reaction or possible reaction. i always find that i am not nearly as prepared as i had hoped i'd be. all's well that ends well in this situation. i'm just glad it didn't turn out to be a more serious reaction (if, in fact it was a reaction to peanuts at all). the scary thing is that each reaction i've seen has been different to some degree. and, both girls seem to react a bit differently too. thanks for your help. : ) Joey

Posted on: Sat, 11/03/2001 - 2:03pm
Carefulmom's picture
Joined: 01/03/2002 - 09:00

In someone without any heart problems,there is no harm in using the Epipen if it wasn`t needed. On the other hand, if you wait until the reaction is severe before using the Epipen, it may not work. If the person`s blood pressure has dropped too much due to anaphylaxis, the medication won`t go to where it needs to go and therefore it won`t work. A study was done of patients who used the Epipen and still died of anaphylaxis. It showed that almost all of these patients (29 out of 32) waited too long before using it, and that is why they died. That was demonstrated all too well when Nathan Walters died needlessly due to a delay in using the Epipen. I`m glad it all worked out for you, but it`s always better to use the Epipen when in doubt. I watch the training video and practice with Epipen trainer about once every six months, so it is always fairly fresh in my mind. If you are afraid to use it in the moment, contemplate the possibility of your child dying if you don`t use it. The only time I had to do it that was my motivator. Better to inflict pain on my child for a short ten seconds than to watch her die. By the way, in my daughter`s preschool there was a child whose father who went into anaphylaxis. He didn`t have an Epipen, so the mom called 911. When they arrived seven minutes later and gave epinephrine, it was too late and he died. The reason we all carry Epipens for our PA children is that there is no way to know how fast anaphylaxis will progress, and delaying the Epipen until the ER is very risky.

Posted on: Sun, 11/04/2001 - 3:01am
KarenT's picture
Joined: 10/30/1999 - 09:00

A friend of mine took his son to emerg. without giving him the epi-pen. He knew he was having a reation but did not think it was that bad. You can not see Blood Pressure dropping! The doctor was very angry with my friend for not giving his son the epi-pen. This was a very scary for everyone.

Posted on: Mon, 11/05/2001 - 12:41am
Heather2's picture
Joined: 09/25/2001 - 09:00

A couple of weeks ago, my son's eyes swelled up after eating the same ravioli's and tomato sauce we've had for a long time. I had called both companies and was assured they were safe. So I couldn't imagine what he ate that would cause a reaction. We gave two doses of Benadryl and called the ped. on call who said he didn't think it was a food reaction either. My son had a temper tantrum during dinner that night so we've come to the conclusion that he rubbed either tomato, garlic, black pepper, onion or all of the above into his eyes and irritated them. Although an allergist told me that swelling from a food reaction anywhere on the body is a sign that swelling could move to the throat and the thought of giving the epi did cross my mind - my instincts just told me that wasn't a food reaction. Not that I'm suggesting your child's swelling wasn't a reaction - just telling you my story.
[This message has been edited by Heather2 (edited November 05, 2001).]

Posted on: Tue, 11/06/2001 - 10:54am
joeybeth's picture
Joined: 09/01/2006 - 09:00

Heather, like your situation, it did turn out that our "reaction" was some sort of spider bite (or insect bite) and not a peanut reaction. Oddly, my gut instinct told me this reaction looked "different" than the peanut reactions I have seen but, since we had been at a chinese restaurant less than a half hour earlier, we had to assume the eye swollen shut was the result of a peanut reaction. We were just very lucky. I really do need to stop being so fearful of the epinephrine though. On one other occasion I should have administered the epi-pen and didn't. The doctor in the ER assured me I should have given it - and like several of you said - the risks of the ephinephrine are far less than the risks of a bad reaction. I need to keep focused and give the medication whenever there is the possibility it may be needed. It seems I'm always second guessing myself when it comes to PA and reactions (which thankfully, between two PA daughters, have only happened three times in six years). It's a terrible thing to witness and you'd think that image would remain so fresh in your mind that you'd be giving the epipen every time they have an itch. Somehow, for me, it's like a new experience every time and I'm unsure what to do. Thanks everyone. Joey

Posted on: Sun, 11/11/2001 - 1:21am
Carefulmom's picture
Joined: 01/03/2002 - 09:00

Here`s an idea. When my daughter`s Epipens expire, which is pretty often since she has five of them (one in the classroom, one in after care, one in the cafeteria, one in the office at school, and one which is always with me), I let the teachers practice by injecting the expired Epipen into an orange, so she can they what it feels like. Maybe you should try it so you would be more comfortable.

Posted on: Sun, 11/11/2001 - 8:10am
Suzmom's picture
Joined: 11/11/2001 - 09:00

thanks for your honesty about fears of using epi. I, too, took my son to ER w/o giving epi and got chewed out by er doc and allergist the next week. Now I understand why - I didn't know the part about the blood pressure drop. Sure wish they'd tell us that in the doc's office! Thanks again! I'll be more confident I'm doing the right thing if there's a "next" time.

Posted on: Tue, 11/13/2001 - 12:37pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hi. I was pertrified to use the epi-pen also, and was afraid to practice after reading how horrified some folks were about the size of the needle.
However-My son had a reaction at a party, that I did not think was food related nor seem like an allergic reaction, but on the way to the doctor it appeared to me that he was having difficulty talking and that he was going to pass out. I was very confused as the original reason we were going to the doctor was because of a severe headache, following a brief complaint hours earlier about back pain...
anyway, as he was looking like he had two bad symptoms-trouble talking which could've indicated throat swelling and he looked like he was passing out...(made no sense since his breathing was normal and his heart rate was fine...)nevertheless I kept hearing in my head,"if you hesitate, you've lost him" - so I gave him the epi about a minute before we pulled into the medical center. I was afraid to hesitate a second longer...
My pediatrician said I shouldn't have given him the epi. Later in discussion with my allergist, she understood why I decided too and didn't say yes or no. It did snap him right back into animated communicative little guy, but I suspect may have made his headache a lot worse.
Not sure what actually caused the headache, etc. ended up going to ER and having CATSCAN and seeing many doctors. In a few days he was fine and still is. No of us are any wiser...but at least he is fine. I do not know if I over-reacted by giving the epi, but there were many warning flags...
What I really wanted to say though is that, I was so encouraged by his response to the epi-pen, that I am no longer afraid of it. Nor do I think that the needle is that horrifying and now I know that I can and will do it, if I think it needs to be done. The needle doesn't seem that big to me, but I have been around needles in my job, so I am familiar with some really huge ones. I work with large animals.
I have also been told to give the epi if there are breathing problems or thready pulse, drop in blood pressure, or two or three of any less threatening symptoms occuring simultaneously.
Getting a comfort level with the epi-pen has dramatically reduced the stress level I experience daily living with this allergy. I hope you can find a way to do the same. Good luck.


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