Subsequent Exposures

Posted on: Tue, 11/09/1999 - 11:58pm
Tina H.'s picture
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Joined: 10/13/1999 - 09:00

Hi. As a mother of a PA daughter, I am forever worried about what will happen when and if she has a reaction again. Her only exposure at 13 months was hives and swelling of the eyes. Has anyone else had this type of initial reaction and then had subsequent reactions? What happened? I've been told that is is quite likely that throughout her life, her only reaction would be hives and swelling of the eyes. Is this possible? Could someone have a severe peanut allergy and never have a life threatening experience? There are many kids in her school that have peanut allergies, and most don't seem as neurotic or careful as I am. On Halloween, I was talking with one of the mothers whos son has the allergy, and she was surprised that I didn't allow my daughter to eat anything at the party. Then, someone rushed in to tell her that her son just took a bite of a cupcake with peanut butter frosting. He spit it out immediately. Luckily, he had no reaction at all! His initial reaction was worse than my daughter's. A couple of years ago, on an airplane, he touched peanuts and touched his eyes and got hives and had trouble breathing. They almost had to land the plane! So how come he had no reaction to peanuts this time? Hopefully, he outgrew it, but if he didn't, I think this gave the mother a false sense of security. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Sorry for rambling, but as you know, this allergy can be quite confusing. What I really want to know is this: Could someone have a peanut allergy and never have a life-threatening experience? Are there any adults out there who have PA who can share insight?

Posted on: Wed, 11/10/1999 - 2:29am
Amy Swett's picture
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Joined: 11/09/1999 - 09:00

Tina-
I was told that with each exposure to peanuts the reaction could get worse each time. My son first came in contact with a peanut butter sandwich at 10 months old and got the hives and started wheezing. From that point on, we were told to keep peanuts completely away from him. After having an incident in pre-school last week- we decided to have him tested by the skin scratch test, which casued hives from head to toe, but no wheezing. so maybe it depends on how much they come in contact with? I would like to know the answer to your question also........but haven't found one yet!

Posted on: Wed, 11/10/1999 - 3:09am
Christine's picture
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Joined: 02/03/1999 - 09:00

Tina,
PA is certainly a confusing allergy and, unfortunately, there will be no hard and fast answers to your questions. My son had his first reaction (hives, facial swelling) when he was 8 months old. When he was 4 years old, the daycare center accidentally gave him some of those pre-packaged peanut butter crackers. He ate 2 of them before anyone realized what was going on. Guess what?? No visible reaction. Of course, I ran to my allergist and demanded more testing and he was just as allergic to peanuts as he ever was. According to my allergist, for each individual there is a certain limit of peanut that is going to push that individual over the threshold into having a reaction. Unfortunately, it might be a different amount each time. For my son's very first reaction, he had pure peanut butter on a piece of bread. He was also very young. His second ingestion (the crackers) was really not pure peanut butter. It is ground peanuts mixed in with some vegetable oil base along with a million other chemicals/preservatives. Obviously, the amount that he ate that day, was not enough to set off a reaction. But I, in no way, believe that the allergy is gone. Also, of course, you can be allergic to peanuts and not have anaphylaxis. A friend of mine who is 43 years old says that she has been mildly allergic to peanuts as long as she can remember. She remembers being in her teens and eating candy with peanuts. She was always aware of her tongue and roof of her mouth tingling after she ate them. So she sort of subconsciously avoided them. But, even now, she will occasionally eat something and get the same reaction. It has never changed in all the years she has had it. But, she has never experienced hives, eye swelling, etc. Regarding some of the other mothers you know who have PA kids, I know how you feel. I've run across one who acts just that way. They don't take it nearly as serious as I do. All it ends up doing is making all of your efforts (which are proper) look like hysterical actions.
Christine

Posted on: Wed, 11/10/1999 - 4:08am
river's picture
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Joined: 07/15/1999 - 09:00

Tina:
Don't call yourself neurotic, call yourself responsible. To let a peanut allergic child eat baked goods from kitchens with peanut products is ignorant and certainly negligent.
From what I've read, (and I've read just about everything there is to read), that boy could still be allergic to peanuts. Reactions are unpredictable and therefore avoidance is so very very important.
If he is still allergic, that could mean that the next exposure could be severe, even though he seemed to have no symptoms this time.
Why would anyone want to take unnecessary chances with their child's life? I just don't understand it.

Posted on: Wed, 11/10/1999 - 4:44am
Christine's picture
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Joined: 02/03/1999 - 09:00

River,
One word--IGNORANCE. Have you ever noticed out there, that there are information seekers and information avoiders? I have found that the parents who take the nonchalant attitude toward this allergy are the same people who never have bothered to do the minimal reading on this subject. They don't go out and read all that they can. They put blind faith in their pediatricians (who we have all found to be less than knowledgeable regarding this allergy). It is very frustrating to me and when I run across one of these types of parents I generally cut myself off from them because I think they are crazy.
Christine

Posted on: Wed, 11/10/1999 - 9:02am
scywong's picture
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Joined: 10/28/1999 - 09:00

HI Tina:
I am a 21 yr old PA sufferer and speaking from my experience, I notice that each time I have peanuts, the reaction is worse. I don't mean to scare you but, I used to only have an itchy throat and now I get anaphylactic. However, I have a friend who is also allergic to peanuts and she seems to have "outgrown" it. However, you can never be sure because as others have said, it depends on how much peanut or peanut protein is in the product. The reason I say this is, speaking again from experience, I only react to some peanut oils and not others. My allergist told me it was due to the nature of the peanut oil and it's purity. Keeping your child away from such products is the only REAL answer! Also, I believe your caution is necessary. If you don't, your child may become very edgy about eating because allergic reactions are not any fun and it can cause a lot of eating anxiety.
I wish you and your child the best!
Hope this helps!
Keep safe!

Posted on: Wed, 11/10/1999 - 9:32am
Kathryn's picture
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Joined: 02/17/1999 - 09:00

From my reading of limited medical literature, I have learned that there is no agreement by the professionals about this topic. That said I am aware of three peanut/tree nut allergic adults whose reactions have got worse over time. My brother as a young child only got hives but with his last two exposures had life threatening reactions to minute traces of nuts in foods that he was assured were safe. My babysitters son got eczema only on his back as a young child when he ate peanuts but now in his late teens has hives and breathing difficulties. The father of another peanut allergic child could always eat peanuts as a child and young adult but got a scratchy throat if he did--now he gets hives and has respiratory problems. These are only three cases but I will believe, until definitive research is done that proves otherwise, that each exposure makes the body more reactive. Take care.
[This message has been edited by Kathryn (edited November 10, 1999).]

Posted on: Thu, 11/11/1999 - 8:16am
Donnamarie's picture
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Joined: 11/16/1999 - 09:00

There are two schools of thought: (1) that each subsequent reaction gets worse and (2) that some subsequent reactions may be minimal, but others could be life-threatening. Unfortunately, there isn't enough research that proves either way. My son's experience reflects the first school, that each reaction gets worse--I figure that the less he is exposed to peanuts, the smaller the chance of a life-threatening experience. I truly feel that the other parents' actions are irresponsible and negligent--this is a person's LIFE that hangs in the balance. This often happens when families are in denial, or just overwhelmed by the complexity of the issue. You need to make your decision based on your experience and beliefs. I personally NEVER feed my son any peanuts, and I am very careful about cross-contamination.

Posted on: Thu, 11/11/1999 - 8:17am
Donnamarie's picture
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Joined: 11/16/1999 - 09:00

Also, it is very important to realize that PA are often a lifetime issue. It is very uncommon to outgrow PA.

Posted on: Sun, 11/14/1999 - 1:16pm
LIZ IN NC's picture
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Joined: 09/10/1999 - 09:00

Tina H.--Your child is lucky to have a parent like you. Are you neurotic for safe-
guarding the health and well being of your child--of course not!! Of course there will always be parents out there who don't buckle their child in the car,don't have their child wear a helmet when biking, and don't take their child's PA seriously. That does not make the rest of us neurotic--it makes us concientious and educated!
I think that you are taking the right approach. PA can be confusing, but everything I have heard and read indicates that there is the potential for worsening of symptoms with exposures and also this allergy is unpredictable. Err on the side of caution. My own MD (I am PA) told me that I need to take this very seriously--that not many people die from food allergies, but those who die usually have PA. Need I say more?! YOU ARE DOING THE RIGHT THING! Good Luck.

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