Are you terrified of your child having a severe allergic reaction? Does it make you feel really emotional and has the thought of anaphylaxis kept you awake a night?
For many parents this is how they feel about anaphylaxis and because parents feel afraid they often find it diﬃcult to discuss anaphylaxis with their child. We often focus on preventing a reaction with our children which is vital, however, this is only part of the picture. Children need to! know what anaphylaxis is and how we deal with it when it happens.
The reality is that one day it will happen and wouldn’t you rather be prepared? Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction and is potentially life-threatening. Symptoms can include, coughing, a tight throat, flushing of the skin, diﬃculty breathing, wheezing and a drop in blood! pressure to name a few. Anaphylaxis typically aﬀects more than one body system. Have you ever thought about how your child feels about them one day experiencing an anaphylactic reaction?
I’ll never forget the words that our allergist said to us at one of our appointments in the early days. “It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when it will happen”.
That statement was a huge wake up call that I couldn’t be 100 percent certain I could prevent a reaction from happening. No matter how careful I was or how much I planned for activities and read food labels, the reality is food accidents do happen.
So it’s time to face your fears, the truth is it’s actually not as bad as you may have imagined on those many sleepless nights.
Your child is gasping for breath, your worst nightmare is playing out. Your child is terrified as they don’t know what happens next, they ate the wrong food, does this mean they going to die? Let’s rewind.
Now let’s imagine that you have faced your fear and you have a plan. An Action Plan that you have role-played with yourself, your partner and your child. Your child will then be able to recognise the things that are happening to their body. They are able to vocalise how they are feeling and tell you or another adult.
You remain calm because you’ve done this before when you role-played, you follow your Action Plan. Are they having symptoms of anaphylaxis? You administer the EpiPen and call an ambulance. Meanwhile, your child is calm because they already know the drill and know what to expect next.
You arrive at the hospital, you are not alone as you have medical professionals there to help you. You are confident and your child see’s this and feels comforted and reassured. Anaphylaxis is still scary that’s for sure, no one wants to see their child like this but knowing what to do and how to help them is vital. Knowing how to react in this situation keeps you focused and moving towards your goal of helping your child get through this. You are a team. Fear makes you feel powerless but knowledge gives your courage. You’ve got this!
It’s okay to be scared but it’s better to be prepared. Now go and have that conversation with your child.
Thai’s First Ambulance Ride is a gentle way to begin the discussion about what happens when you! have anaphylaxis.
By focusing on the book character Thai, it’s easy to discuss what was happening to his body, did he do everything right in the story? Do you think he could or should of done things diﬀerently? How do you think he is feeling? How do you think you would feel?
A perfect tool for parents to gently talk to their child about anaphylaxis, the likely symptoms they may experience, why you must tell someone if you noticed these signs and what happens if you have a reaction at home, or at school. It’s important to know what happens in the ambulance and when you arrive at the hospital.
This is the one lesson you really want to teach your child. It literally can be life-saving. Now face your fear and be one step ahead of anaphylaxis.
By Jackie Nevard
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