I remember I was just a young college student when I first heard of anaphylaxis to peanuts. The whole thing seemed like a gross over- exaggeration. I was so ignorant that I believed that you actually had to consume an allergen to have a reaction. Even more ignorant, I thought that hives would be the worst of it! Little did I realize that the anaphylaxis boogie man would one day haunt me in every nightmare and all of my waking life.

What is anaphylaxis? It’s an acute allergic reaction that can kill you in minutes. In other words, you are exposed either unknowingly or accidentally—let’s hope never intentionally, to an allergen such as peanuts or shellfish. Histamine and other substances cause your body to react, and this causes your airways to tighten. The symptoms become worse with each passing second—yes, second not minutes. In severe cases, the affected person will struggle to breathe instantly and can die within 10 minutes.

What helps? Benadryl would help but is not fast acting enough under this condition. Additionally, if the reaction is severe, the airway will be closed so Benedryl would not be able to enter the body. You need an EpiPen! EpiPen’s are not practical because they are not easy to carry, being rather big and bulky, and must be kept at room temperature. Therefore it is not unusual for people who need them not to carry them. However, they can help your life! You must carry two at all times since you need to be rushed to an emergency room after using it. One EpiPen buys someone between 10 and 15 minutes. With two on hand, you could possibly buy yourself enough time to get medical attention.

What would help most?   Accept that anaphylaxis is not an exaggeration! It’s a life threatening condition. When someone tells you that they have an anaphylaxis reaction to an allergen, it means that what you eat, what you touch, what you give the person can kill them.

Be kind! The person didn’t develop the allergy to aggravate or inconvenience you! Anaphylaxis sucks for those who have to live with it and may die as a result of it. It sucks for those of us who love those with the condition and live in dread someone will be careless and accidently kill our loved one!

 

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