New to this and FREAKED OUT!

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My son (5 1/2) was just diagnosed today as having an allergy to peanuts. I am completely weirded out. He has been asthmatic since he was a baby, and I always suspected it was dust or mold (nope) which triggered it. Turns out his WORST allergy is peanuts. But he EATS peanuts! I can't tell you how many times he's had a peanut butter sandwich or whole peanuts without incident. I don't know how he could register as +4!

Of course, I am going to be stringent and keep all the peanut products from him, but I had another curious question for anyone who might be able to help:

My son is also ADHD. Could his ADHD symptoms actually be a reaction to his allergies? Has anyone else ever wondered this? His psychologist seemed utterly unsurprised to find out he was asthmatic, as if there was a correlation. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

------------------ Melanie

On Apr 18, 2001

Melanie- First of all you are not alone anymore. We are all here for each other. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] Secondly, as a Sped teacher of 21 yrs and mother of a PA 6 yr old daughter, I wouldn't be surprised if the PA diagnosis and the ADHD had something to do with each other. Did the Dr. tell you it can take up to 8 weeks for some of these foods to completely work their way out of the system? Read the boards and relax. Arlene

On Apr 18, 2001

Thanks Arlene for the reply. The doctor didn't tell me it would take up to 8 weeks for it to get out of his system. She didn't even ask me the last time he had peanuts. To be honest, I can't remember because my mother watches him after school while I work, and she eats peanuts all the time being on the Adkins diet.

Tomorrow I will find out how his little private school is going to react to this new issue. They were just boasting a few months ago about how they don't have any peanut allergic kids in their school this year. I usually don't make him lunch either as they provide pretty excellent meals for a good price. I am probably going to have to rethink that and figure out a way to make lunches for him AND deal with the baby and his older step-brother in the am.

How do you deal with this issue? I can't ban peanuts from my house. My step-son and husband LOVE peanuts and peanut butter. I can live without them, but I know I can't get them to quit.

To top it all off, I had to give my cat away today, too. I've had cats all my life. I love my son so much I'd do anything to keep him from having another asthma attack, but how do you get other people (especially kids) to understand and cooperate?

My X thinks its all some sort of horrible conspiracy or something and my Dad doesn't believe it, but I was there and saw what his skin reaction was... and I will be there when he gets the blood test, too. Try controlling a 4 foot tall, 5 year old when he's getting pricked 45 times in the arm.

And I thought the ADHD was bad. How can we protect our children without making them feel different? I don't want him to grow up making excuses for why he can't do the things other people do. It's bad enough with the ADHD... he gets out of control and self-defeatist. Top it with asthma, and he can't play with the other kids OR pay attention long enough. What I would DO to have him drug free and healthy. I don't know how I'm going to handle this one..

------------------ Melanie

On Apr 18, 2001

what do you mean you can't ban peanuts from your house?! Your husband loves them. Your mother eats them all the time. Your child could DIE from them. The priorities need to be determined here. I'm sorry but I just don't get this. YES you can ban peanuts from your house. Most of us have. I have banned them from every aspect of our lives that I can. They are a deadly poison to my child. I know you are very new to this and will have to forge your way through it all. It's a lot to learn and a lot to accept and your entire family, your child, and everyone close to your child will need to be educated. Your child's life is at stake here.

On Apr 19, 2001

MeCash -

I wouldn't be surprised if your son's asthma improves dramatically now that he'll be avoiding peanuts/peanut products. You said that he hadn't displayed any symptoms when eating peanuts, but his asthma could be a symptom. My daughter's wheezing has gotten much, much better since we've totally avoided peanuts for over a year now - in fact, it's non-existent; the only thing we sometimes deal with now when she gets a cold is night coughing, or mild coughing when running too much. I wish you good luck in handling this (it does get much easier once you've gotten over the steep learning curve and have dealt with it for awhile). But just by poring over these boards you'll feel much more confident soon.

Jackie

On Apr 19, 2001

That's exactly right. They are a deadly poison, which is what I am trying to explain to my SON. I think that is the very first place to start. Getting the rest of my family to understand isn't going to happen overnight. That's not reality.

Most of them seem to think it's poppycock because he EATS peanuts and peanut butter (not anymore, as of yesterday when he was diagnosed), but I take it a lot more seriously. Apparently, it's just a matter of time before it creates a serious allergic reaction in his system. Am I worried, yes! Am I horrified, yes! Does anyone else understand, no.

The problem here is that, as much as I would LIKE to ban peanuts from my home, my mothers home, my X-husbands home, his school, etc., the responsibility for educating MY son about HIS allergy is of paramount concern. HE has to learn to live in a world where peanuts exist and minimize/eliminate his exposure to it. By banning it from my home (and thus causing huge fights with my new husband, which I honestly don't care to do), I am doing more harm to my son than good. He has to learn, as do I, as do they.

Right now, he doesn't react to airborne peanuts, doesn't have anything severe related to it except a reaction to the skin test. Do I want to risk his life? No, of course not. But, I do want him to feel normal, and take this one step at a time with my family and not freak out.

Are they all going to pay attention to his allergy? Yes. I have sent the list of ingredients he can't have to everyone I know, every where we eat with family and friends. I will be diligent, but I do not expect them to ban something from their homes, either... just don't give it to my son!

I realize many of you have children who have severe reactions simply to being in the same room as a peanut. And I understand the fear and worry and the absolute stringent reactions many of you have to have. And I may find myself in the same place in the future, but I will just have to take this whole thing slowly and work on the denial of my family to make his life better. One day at a time.

------------------ Melanie

On Apr 19, 2001

One day at a time... you've hit the nail on the head, Melanie. It is next to impossible to make everyone in the family participate in such an major lifestyle change overnight. You've got the additional challenge of making family members believe in your son's allergy, when he's been eating the allergenic food all along. I don't blame them for being skeptical!

I think the best way to approach it is not from an "allergy" standpoint, but from a behavioral standpoint. Many ADHD children have been greatly helped through diet modification - I'm sure you will find lots of pertinent info by searching the internet for examples. As Arlene says, it will take time for the offending food(s) to work its way out of his system, so don't expect a great improvement overnight, and warn others not to expect to see results right away, either. But, as Jackie says, you may see an improvement soon with the asthma symptoms - this would be an encouraging sign for your family to see. It will definitely help for them to see concrete results stemming from peanut avoidance.

A compromise to start with on the peanuts in the house - ask your husband and stepson to keep ALL peanut products in a special spot. Perhaps a hard to get to place like the cupboard above the fridge, so your PA son won't be able to reach them. This was the first step we took in our household, when my husband was still in the "denial" stage.

Provide plastic utensils for making peanut butter sandwiches, that can be discarded, and teach everyone in the family about cross-contamination. Use a clean knife for jelly, or butter - DO NOT stick the PB knife into the jelly or butter, even if it's been wiped off. PB is very sticky, and the peanut protein is still present on a wiped-off knife. If you are to completely eliminate peanuts in his diet, to help modify his behavior and improve his asthma, you must eliminate every trace, or it won't work.

Counters must be thoroughly wiped off, with either a hot, sudsy dishcloth, or a spray bleach - it is the scrubbing action that gets rid of the protein (but you don't have to sprain your arm - just be thorough!).

Do you think these steps are reasonable for your family to follow at first? Once everyone is used to following these guidelines, it will become easier to implement more changes. If your son does start to react to touch (my daughter never did until last Christmas, when Daddy kissed her 3 hours after eating some PB on a bagel) then you can increase your "safety protocols" accordingly. Gradual, non-threatening change seems to be the best course, which is what you seem to be embarking on already. Good luck!

I also understand how it is to be in a second marriage - I married my husband when my son was 8 years old - and it's difficult to tell the man you love that your child comes first! You don't want to cause waves in a new marriage, you're committed to making it work, and then this monkey wrench gets thrown into the situation, just to remind you and your husband of the "for worse" part of your vows [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]. Believe me, it is a constant balancing act, even without the added difficulty of medical problems! You are welcome to contact me off the boards, if you want, to discuss any other 2nd marriage issues - I know there are lots of them, but we just celebrated our 5th anniversary, and things are only getting better!

Welcome to the boards!

On Apr 19, 2001

Melanie, as you know I am new to this too. My husband was upset that he had to give up all peanut stuff, but quite frankly I told him her life is more important. It was a harder adjustment on him and still is, but that is the way it has to be. When I learned of the allergy, I wanted to get rid of everything with peanut in it and am still in the process of learning about all the things that it contains. It is deadly poison as far as I am concerned. I actually wanted to tell you about two books that I have read are great for children, which are, "No Nuts For Me" by Aaron Zevy and Susan Tebbutt and "Allie the Allergic Elephant: A Children's Story of Peanut Allergies". I have ordered them and don't know what they are like yet, but I think they would be a good tool for letting your son see the seriousness of the allergy and it is something he can share with his class. Good luck! Know that there are a lot of us in the same boat. The statistics say that 3 million people in the US (not sure where you are from) have this allergy, but it should include All those in the person's life, because it affects us too!

------------------

On Apr 19, 2001

MeCash, my son also had a 4+ skin test to peanuts and has never reacted. He has not eaten peanuts and peanutbutter like your son, but has had peanut flour, eaten things after picking the peanuts off, and the like. FAAN (Food Allergy Network) will tell you that a diagnosis can only be made with a test in combination with a reaction. No reaction, and he is not considered allergic. I know it's hard to feel comfortable giving him peanuts after that test, and I'm not suggesting you do(!) but, he may not really be allergic.

I keep my son away from peanuts, and will continue to do so until he has a negative test, and perhaps an oral challenge. But, I have a pretty lax comfort level, because I'm not entirely sure he really is allergic.

I live in MD and noticed you don't live too far away. There is a doctor at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore who is a leading expert on PA. His name is Dr. Robert Wood. I haven't taken Ben there, but plan to eventually. But I was told by an assistant of his that was very knowlegable and works with PA families all the time, that Ben is not truly allergic. I can't trust that, so I keep him away from peanuts, but I have serious doubts that he is allergic. So don't panic yet.

As for pb in the house, your son is 5 1/2. He can understand what not to eat, although it will be hard at first since he's eaten it before. Start reading labels in front of him, and he'll get the idea that things need to be checked. Ben was 4 1/2 when he was diagnosed.

One allergist also told me that peanuts and grass can cross react, and Ben reacted 4+ to the offending grasses on the skin test. I don't know if that means he would never have a serious reaction to peanuts, or if the skin test for peanuts is a false neg or what. But it's another possibility. I also read on here from FAAN conference notes that someone posted that 50% of skin prick tests are false positives. So, keep reading and researching and looking for answers, and feel free to email me. I'm always interested in talking to people in the same boat.

On Apr 19, 2001

Thanks BensMom.

I am going to get the blood test done on him as prescribed, but I am not altogether sure his asthma is not a direct symptom of his peanut allergy. The last two asthma attacks he had were very difficult to control and highly horrifying. Can I remember if he ate peanut butter then? No. Whereas my new husband and step-son eat peanut butter all the time, I am an occasional eater, as is my son. In fact, I can't remember a time he actually ate a whole sandwich or more than a few peanuts. I don't think he really likes them. Well.. he loves peanut butter cups, but who doesn't? He usually just licks the jelly off the sandwich. Maybe he knew something I didn't!

Now, last week was spring break and he did eat some peanuts at my moms house. Not many, but a few.. and I did have to give him ventolin for wheezing a few times last week. Correlation? I don't know. Otherwise, he had an eventless winter, but I also didn't make him any PBJ sandwiches, either. Both the boys have been smitten with turkey and cheese and roast beast and salami. Apparently his school already has a peanut free menu because of a couple of other allergic kids in the higher grades (they all eat in their classrooms, as they are a small private school). I didn't know that until today, but it makes me rest easier...

I will get a second opinion - maybe a third. I just don't want to believe it, but I will protect him in the meantime. God, I love the kid. As difficult as he is, I just adore him.

Melanie

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