Sunday, March 29, 2015

Food Allergies

This is part of a series of posts about Penny's eczema story.  To start at the beginning, go here.

At six months old, I let Penny have a bite of pancake at a birthday party.  A few minutes later, she turned red, broke out in hives, and threw up.  I called my husband to bring us some Benadryl since no one, including me, had any.  We cleaned up and went home in borrowed clothes.

The current recommendation from FARE is to use an epi pen and go to the ER with this many symptoms. 

The next reaction happened when I added some flax seed to her peaches because she was getting a little constipated.  Her lower lip swelled.  We gave her Benadryl and drove to the ER, waiting in the parking lot until her symptoms subsided because we didn’t have insurance. 

Penny's swollen lower lip
Her lip swelled again a few nights later when she ate lentils.
I got an Epipen and every time she tried a new food, I had the epi, Benadryl, and a phone ready.  Not wanting to crash any more parties, we only attempted new foods at home. 

The list grew to include gluten, dairy, eggs, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, lentils, garlic, soy, tomatoes, and strawberries.  

The garlic was harder to figure out because she didn’t react to it immediately.  She started throwing up every day around 9 months old.  I finally reintroduced every food one at a time with no seasonings until I figured out it was garlic.  She didn’t grow very much for those months although she never got down to a weight that concerned our doctor.

Now I would recommend someone in these circumstances get allergy testing if possible.  Our pediatrician told us the results are sometimes helpful but often unclear for babies, and since it was expensive, we held off.

Since I was breastfeeding, I eliminated all these foods from my own diet.  (I hadn't stuck with the elimination diet mentioned in my previous post since it wasn't helping.) Her eczema improved a little.  We do have lots of pictures of clear skin from the good days, but we still had so many nights where I paced with her because she was too itchy to settle to sleep. 

The way steroids are most often used, if you use them for five days, then the doctor prescribes a break for five days (the exact numbers vary from patient to patient).  She could never make it the number of days she was supposed to without the eczema getting bad again, and my husband and I used to argue about when to start them up again.  The topical steroids kept her from getting more infections, but eczema was still ruling our lives.

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