After eating less than a ¼ of teaspoon of hummus, my son broke out into large red welts all over his body. Honestly, we did not panic. We were too ignorant to panic at that point. We called the doctor, gave him some Benadryl, and watched the hives disappear as fast as they had come. He was about 16 months at the time.
After some allergy testing, we learned that the culprit had been the sesame in the hummus. We also found out that he was allergic to eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts. And so we began our introduction to the Epipen and the world of food allergies. And that’s when the panic ensued. When tested at age three, his peanut reaction was so large that they marched him around the allergist’s office to show the other doctors and nurses.
I could write forever about our experiences and the emotional roller coaster ride, but we’ll save that for another day. Fortunately, with the help of time, education, and an excellent allergist, we have things as under control as one can. And in the context of the things that many families have to face, I know how lucky we are that we have a healthy, vibrant child.
That said, some of the normal experiences of life have to be undertaken with a bit more thought. Eating at restaurants requires asking a lot of questions, (BTW, Red Robin is amazing at catering to allergic customers.) We take treats to birthday parties as he can’t eat the cake. And travel can present a unique set of problems—everything from will the airline serve peanuts to will the relatives be willing to avoid peanut butter for the week.
Debbie Dubrow has written an excellent and very thorough article in Delicious Baby on the subject—Tips and Advice for Traveling with Severe Food Allergies. She also wrote a separate piece about why she cares about the issue (she does not have children with food allergies). Please read her commentary.
The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network also posts good travel tips.