The first time we went to the emergency room for a food allergy reaction the doctors ran the show. Like many others, I felt lost managing food allergy treatment, overwhelmed, and at the mercy of the doctors and their treatments. I didn't agree with how the doctor was managing the food allergy reaction our son was having, his dismissal that a food allergy couldn't be causing our son's reaction, or the treatment our son was receiving from someone not trained in the specialized field of pediatric allergies.
Now when we go to the emergency room for a food allergy reaction I have involved the diagnosis, treatment options, and how my child receives treatment. I am confident in my knowledge to be able to speak with doctors on their level, discuss treatment options and even request the treatments I want for my children.
Managing food allergy treatment in the emergency room is easier than you think, and I'm here to help you advocate for your child with food allergies, and receive the treatment you want to receive with these 5 tips for managing food allergy treatment in the emergency room.
5 Tips for Managing Food Allergy Treatment in the Emergency Room
- Don't downplay the reaction. When you go to the emergency room for an allergic reaction, walk to the first nurse you see and explain to them your child has food allergies and is having an allergic reaction. Remember that this can be a life-threatening situation and every second matter. Many times, your child will be triaged and seen immediately.
- Don't be afraid to speak up and challenge the diagnosis. The first time we went to the E.R. for a food allergy reaction we were told allergic reactions are either full-blown immediate anaphylaxis reactions or nothing. Unfortunately, this is just not true. Our son didn't receive the food allergy treatment he needed causing his symptoms to accelerate and requiring him to have to be hospitalized. Always keep in mind, E.R. doctors are not trained, pediatric allergists.
- Just like the diagnosis, don't be afraid to challenge the treatment. When our daughter had her first food allergy reaction to peanuts I questioned the treatment she was receiving. I couldn't understand why she was being treated with steroids and not epinephrine, and the staff at the E.R. wouldn't explain it to me. While in the waiting room, I called our on-call allergist and discussed the treatment plan she was receiving at the E.R. Turns out, treating an allergic reaction with steroids instead of epinephrine is common if there are no breathing problems associated with a food allergy reaction.
- Don't be afraid to ask for and discuss your preferred treatment options. When our son had a recent allergic reaction to an unknown allergen, I was able to discuss our son's treatment options with the doctor and request how I wanted him to be treated. We opted for steroids over epinephrine since he wasn't having any breathing problems, and I was even able to request how the steroids were administered. This not only made our trip to the E.R. quick and easy, but it also prevented our son from receiving treatment that would complicate his condition with additional symptoms like vomiting.
- Don't leave without additional medication to prevent a biphasic reaction. Biphasic reactions can be just as life-threatening as the original allergic reaction, but biphasic reactions can be prevented with additional medication at home including steroids. Be sure to discuss the possibility of a biphasic reaction with your doctor and get the prescriptions you need to prevent another allergic reaction before you leave the hospital.
Having to go to the hospital for a food allergy reaction is a scary and overwhelming process, but with these 5 tips for managing food allergy treatment in the emergency room your child can receive the treatment they need and you can have confidence your child is receiving the treatment you want.