Surprising New Food Allergies After Exposure
One day, I was waiting in the pharmacy for my prescription medications. The pharmacist looked at me over the top of her computer monitor and said, "What are you allergic to this time?"
Recovering from a recent severe reaction
I had just been discharged from the emergency room after a scary anaphylaxis episode. The pharmacist was in the middle of processing my prescriptions for epinephrine auto-injectors, antihistamine, and prednisone.
I looked at her and shrugged my shoulders. I told her I ate chicken curry made with coconut milk and lentils. One of those ingredients apparently disagreed with me and caused a reaction.
An overview of my food allergies
I already know I am allergic to all seafood (shellfish and finned fish), and I am cautious to avoid it, even avoiding restaurants that cook seafood.
In the past, I have had to run out of restaurants that were cooking seafood. I would notice that my face was starting to tingle and swell up. And it would feel like my throat was closing off, so I would grab my purse and run outside!
Being allergic to seafood isn't bad because I detest it - and it hates me back!
But this was a new food allergy!
An unexpected anaphylactic reaction
During dinner, it took me a while to realize that I was experiencing anaphylaxis. I wasn't expecting it since I had eaten chicken curry before!
When I finally realized that I was experiencing a severe allergic reaction, I quickly grabbed my epinephrine auto-injector, and nothing happened. I tried again and again. But it was defective!
Making quick decisions
Then, I told my husband to get me to the ER, fast! We only lived 5 minutes away from the hospital, so we quickly jumped in the car and headed to the emergency room.
Upon arrival, the nurse took me back to a room, and I was given an epinephrine injection, then an antihistamine, a steroid, and an anti-nausea drug in an IV.
Additional monitoring at the hospital
The doctor told me they would have to keep me there for 4 hours, so they could monitor for a "rebound" anaphylaxis. I kind of figured that might happen.
While I was there, my husband researched all of the ingredients he used to make the chicken curry to see if he could determine what caused my anaphylaxis.
Low oxygen levels
I remember waking up several times while the monitor was beeping because my oxygen level was low. My husband would say, "Breathe! Take a deep breath!"
I'm not sure why the nurse didn't give me oxygen or a breathing treatment, and I was too out of it to ask my husband for my inhaler.
Anaphylaxis is different for everyone
Anaphylaxis can be different for everyone. And you might have various symptoms each time you experience anaphylaxis, but this is the first time my oxygen level dropped below 90 percent.
Random new food allergies
I still have no idea what I ate that started anaphylaxis this time. I have an appointment with my allergist but will have to wait and see what my allergy test shows.
I am happy to be back to normal, except for a bruised thigh from trying my auto-injector multiple times. But as my husband likes to say, "Normal is a relative term!" He thinks he's so funny.
Who else has a new food allergy? Did you realize what was happening at first, or did it take time to know you were experiencing anaphylaxis?
Do you carry an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) with you?