A Mum’s Battle Against Anaphylaxis

7 min read
A Mum’s Battle Against Anaphylaxis

The author of this post chooses to remain anonymous. Please keep the comments and conversation respectful on this sensitive subject.  To learn more about anaphylaxis and how you can raise your hand and awareness, visit www.anaphylaxis.com.au

‘Sorry, how do you say that, Anna-fa-lacks-es?’ I asked my now-hubby while we were in bed one night several years ago. This question came after a day at the zoo with my new partner and his two children, one of which suffers from severe allergies. After attempting to purchase food from a vendor at the zoo, my now-hubby informed me that this wasn’t allowed.



That was the first time in my life that I had ever heard the word ‘anaphylaxis’ and once knowing what it was, I didn’t like it one little bit. His son, now my step son, has severe allergies to dairy, eggs and nuts. Every single little ingredient has to be checked for any trace of these allergens. Milk solids out. Milk powder out. Traces of nuts, dairy or egg definitely out. He can’t eat anything that has been cooked in pre-used oil. These seemingly small things created a very very small food consumption list and a list of symptoms of severe allergic reactions to be aware of.

FACT: Anaphylaxis is the most severe form of an allergic reaction and can be life threatening. (Reference: ASCIA Anaphylaxis Fact Sheet for parents at risk of children with anaphylaxis). Anyone with an allergy to any substance, from shellfish to a bee sting, is at risk of anaphylaxis. (Source: http://www.anaphylaxis101.com.au/who-is-at-risk-of-anaphylaxis/)

Some months later my step-son had a mate over after soccer. Doing what boys do, my lounge room became a WWE ring, arms and legs everywhere. Until suddenly, they weren’t. My step-son complained of a tight chest and not being able to breathe properly. Within minutes, he started breaking out into hive-like welts, his skin becoming increasingly itchy, his face swelling like a balloon.

I just sat there on the ottoman watching as my husband gave instructions of what to do with whom and who should go where. I felt so helpless and well, necessarily insignificant.  Fifteen minutes earlier he had been happily wrestling, and now he was being shoved into the front seat of my husband’s car, in very serious condition, speeding to the hospital.

My husband checked in later that night to say that my step-son was doing better but he had been given a few shots of adrenaline and was hooked up to a drip to keep him stable. He was understandably very frightened. The reality of the situation was that whatever his friend had eaten prior to them wrestling, he had residue on his hands or clothes and that was enough to make our little man react. He didn’t even have to ingest the allergen, just touch it.

FACT: Anaphylaxis can occur with little warning and what characterizes it from a regular allergic reaction is the severity of the symptoms. Anaphylactic symptoms can be life threatening and can include persistent dizziness and fainting, chest pain, weak pulse, swelling of the tongue, difficulty breathing, wheezing, persistent coughing, abdominal pain and vomiting.  (Source: http://www.anaphylaxis101.com.au/allergy-signs-and-symptoms/http://www.anaphylaxis101.com.au/who-is-at-risk-of-anaphylaxis/ )

That was my first experience with an anaphylactic reaction. I later learned that he could have died that day because I was so uneducated and unprepared in the issue of allergies and anaphylaxis. I was scared to look after him on my own after that, just in case something happened and I wouldn’t know what to do.

FACT: Approximately three out of four people who have experienced an anaphylactic reaction will have another one. You can learn more and assess your child’s risk of anaphylaxis at www.anaphylaxis.com.au. (Source: http://www.anaphylaxis101.com.au/what-is-anaphylaxis/

This may have been my first experience but it certainly wasn’t my last. A year later, the kids made home-made pizzas and while I had separated the ingredients, my step-son, for some reason or another, decided to touch his sister’s pizza. Within seconds I had ordered him to the bathroom to wash his hands thoroughly, but, 20 minutes later he broke out in a rash and had started experiencing asthma symptoms. He was rushed to the hospital while I stayed home with our youngest and tried to figure out what went wrong.

Turns out that yes, he did wash his hands, but no, not with soap. I should have watched him wash his hands; I should have made something else for dinner.

FACT: There are a number of triggers that can spark an anaphylactic reaction and triggers are not specific to each person at risk.  Food, insect bites, medicine and latex are some of the more common triggers but there are plenty of unidentified triggers out there as well. (Source: http://www.anaphylaxis101.com.au/common-triggers-for-allergies-and-anaphylaxis/ )

The fact of the matter is, anaphylaxis can be life threatening and is ALWAYS a medical emergency. Watching a small, innocent boy struggling to breathe and swelling from not just an allergic reaction, but with fear, is something I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.

We now have a 3 year old and she has allergies herself (dairy, eggs, nuts and mango) so we face another round of challenges. Luckily for her (and us), she has not experienced an anaphylactic reaction so far, but we take every precaution possible.

FACT: In Australia and New Zealand, one in three people can expect to develop an allergy. Anaphylactic reactions are rare but can be life threatening and there is no way of knowing if a person who has previously only experienced minor symptoms from an allergy will react the same way each time. This is why being aware of the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis is so important, at home and at school. (Source:http://www.anaphylaxis101.com.au/what-is-anaphylaxis/

I have educated myself as much as possible regarding allergies by understanding the symptoms, seriousness and management of them. I have the confidence to act rationally and quickly if my step son or daughter suffers from anaphylactic shock or an allergic reaction.

I constantly worry that others don’t, won’t or can’t do the same. All I can hope is that my husband and I can educate both children so that they will be armed with the necessary knowledge and tools to look out for themselves. They’re small kids with a big responsibility.

The best way to prepare is to be awareThe more people who understand anaphylaxis, the easier it will be for those people who are living with severe allergies. Regardless of whether your child has an allergy or not, you can do your part and “raise your hand” by entering the Raise Your Hand competition. By entering you could win a $10k educational grant for your child’s school. And you will be making a difference in your community and to those children that have allergies and are at risk.

Please take the time to find out more and enter today at www.anaphylaxis101.com.au. Raise your hand and make a difference.


This post is sponsored by Alphapharm Pty Ltd, Millers Point, NSW, 2000.




If you become concerned about any symptoms please seek immediate medical attentionall information provided is correct at time of publication.

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