Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Oral Allergy Syndrome

Fall is such a great time of year. It is so fun to see the leaves change colors and enjoy the smells of the season like the traditional hot apple cider. And who doesn't love a warm cup of hot cider in your hands with a splash of cinnamon, right?

Well, I was in the mood for some yummy cider and wanted to make some for my girls and I. So I picked some up at the grocery store to celebrate this wonderful season.

My oldest daughter said she didn't ever remember having apple cider. And when I gave some to her, she said her mouth tasted "yukky." This is her way of saying she is having an allergic reaction. When she tells me her mouth tastes "yukky" I act very quickly. She knows her body and she knows when she is having a reaction.

She didn't seem to be wheezing but said she didn't feel well. I gave her benadryl and then started retracing the foods she had just eaten. The only new food we had was apple cider. She has had apples in the past. I couldn't figure it out. Why was she having a reaction to apple cider?

The following morning she was still complaining that she didn't feel well and now she felt like her throat hurt. Now I was thinking we should head to the Yale Emergency Room. This was a mystery to me. Her reaction carried over to the next day. This had never happened before.

We went to the emergency room and the doctor asked me if I had ever heard of oral allergy syndrome. I had never heard of this condition.

Oral allergy syndrome is when pollen falls on fresh fruits and vegetables. This pollen on the fruits or vegetables can cause an allergic reaction to that food. It doesn't usually occur with cooked foods such as applesauce or apple pie for example.

They monitored my daughter and after she was feeling better sent her home.

The next day we went to see her allergist who tested her for birch. The birch tree is the tree apples are grown on. We wanted to make sure my daughter wasn't allergic to the birch pollen.

Her tests for birch came back positive. The pollen that fell on the apples in the apple cider she had tasted created an allergic reaction. Needless to say, we are staying away from fresh apples now and apple cider. We are going to add apples to our list of allergy causing foods.

I will be making some soy milk hot chocolate this fall season. Oh and roast marshmellows over a fire. What child or adult doesn't love getty gooey with marshmellows? This should make up for leaving the apple cider out of our menu for my daughter.

I am so proud of her. It is not easy to have to give up so many things. She is already allergic to milk, eggs, peanuts, sesame, mustard, dust, mold, cats, and now birch pollen.

It is truly amazing to me how the body responds to certain things and in my daughter's case her body reacted to the pollen of the birch tree! Here is a link to more information about oral allergy syndrome for you to check out http://allergies.about.com/od/foodallergies/a/oas.htm

I was a bit perplexed when I was at the Yale Hospital because, the doctor had suggested that the oral allergy syndrome condition is not as severe as a normal ingestion of food type of reaction. But, the information I read seems to indicate that it can develop into a full blown anaphylactic reaction. And I will treat my daughter with the same methods as any other food allergy reaction.

A reaction is a reaction no matter what the cause. And I am not going to try to figure out whether it was an oral allergy syndrome type of reaction or an ingestion reaction.

Enjoy this beautiful fall season. I know we will be playing in the leaves, carving out pumpkins and having a ball with or without apple cider. I will make sure of that.

Stay well, stay safe and be brave.

Debra Denhart

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Watch Your Words

Should we be more cautious in what we are verbalizing in front of our children? I definitely think so.

Maybe I am the minority here, but I find myself verbalizing things in front of my children that should never have left my lips. Do you ever say something and then wish you could turn back time and have a chance for a "do over?"

Comments such as, "I really dont' want to test that food on you today because, I just cannot deal with that stress right now," is a perfect example of what not to say.

My daughter has enough to think about on a daily basis in dealing with her food allergies. And she does not need any other comments which could add to her already high stress level.

I have been really trying to be more careful in what I am saying to her. Since I have been watching my words, I have noticed she seems more confident and at peace. As parents we really do set the tone for our family. If we demonstrate confidence, our children will see that and follow suit. In the same way, they will become stressed out if we are always flustered and stressed.

Children with food allergies have so many emotions going on inside of them. They are constantly on guard when it comes to the preparation of food and ingredients in foods. We can't even imagine how it must feel to live in that fear everyday.

And as a parent of a child with food allergies, we are also living in a state of caution and fear for them. Our lives are constantly on guard in our own preparation of foods and reading the labels of products.

I cannot control everything around me however, I can try to create an environment in my own home that is confident and peaceful. I can also keep comments about being stressed out over something to myself.

I hope this encourages you to watch your words with your children everyday.

So let's be the parents and let our children...be the children.

Stay well, stay safe and...be brave.

Debra Denhart

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Should You Avoid Beef with a Milk Allergy?

I have read some information recently that indicates if you have a milk allergy, you could be allergic to beef as well.

My daughter has a severe milk allergy. In her last blood test ordererd by her allergist, it did show a reaction to beef.

Her allergist stated that not everyone who has a milk allergy can be allergic to beef, but in our case my daughter had an allergy to beef.

The best thing to do is to get tested for the beef allergy by your allergist.

I have started using ground turkey for meals we used to use beef in and they are great. Turkey burgers actually taste pretty good. In fact, I am going to try the ground turkey in a chili recipe and I will let you know how it comes out.

Stay well, stay safe and be brave.

Debra Denhart

Friday, October 2, 2009

Enjoy a Safe Chocolate Cake

It can be frustrating for a child with a milk allergy to not be able to partake in cakes at birthday parties. When I first found out my daughter had allergies to milk, eggs, peanuts, sesame and mustard it was close to her 1st birthday. And I thought, what am I going to make for a cake if I can't use eggs?

I was determined to make a great cake for her very first birthday. On this mission to find the best cake recipe that was milk, egg, and peanut free, I was a little frustrated because none of them came out that great. For her very first birthday cake, I made a Busy Day Cake which was pretty good for a vanilla cake. The Busy Day cake became the only cake I made all of the time.

And although it was a great cake, I really wanted to find a tasty chocolate cake recipe.

Fortunatley, after trying various cake recipes I have found a great chocolate cake recipe I just had to share with you. The recipe is on the back of the Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa container.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Hershey's "Especially Dark" Chocolate Cake
2 c. sugar
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs substitute below
( 3 tbsp. oil, 3 tbsp. water and 2 tsp. baking powder stirred together)=2 eggs
1 c. soy milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. boiling water

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans. 2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add egg substitute for 2 eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans. 3. Bake 30-35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with "Especially dark Chocolate Frosting." 10-12 servings.

Especially Dark Chocolate Frosting
1/2 c. of milk free butter ( I use Smart Balance "Light")
Note: Smart Balance Original contains whey or milk
2/3 c. Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
3 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. soy milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount of additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 c. of frosting.

Stay well, stay safe and be brave.

Debra Denhart

Thursday, October 1, 2009

From the Lips of a Child

I asked my daughter to tell me what she would like people to know about food allergies. To this she responded, "I want them to know how dangerous it is."

Wow, I have to say that comment blew me away a bit. I had to remind myself that I was talking to an eight year old. She has experienced the challenges of dealing with her severe food allergies to milk, eggs, peanuts, sesame and mustard since she was only ten months old.

She has had to go to the emergency room, use the epi-pen and felt her throat start to close on more than one occasion, unfortunately.

So this is my message for you today from the lips of a child. "I want you to know how dangerous it is."

Pass this message on and help us educate the public on food allergies.

Stay well, stay safe and most of all... be brave.

Debra Denhart

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hand Washing Saves Lives

You are probably thinking, what kind of a title is that? Handwashing saves lives? I know it sounds a little crazy, but it is very true.

One of the most important things you can do to help prevent a child with severe food allergies from having an allerigic reaction, is to wash your hands.

However, there are many soaps out on the market now that contain milk ingredients. So it is very important to read the labels on soap to make sure they do not contain an ingredient which could be harmful to your child.

Many people will say to me, well we use hand sanitizer. I think hand sanitizer is great, but, in the case of a child with food allergies it does not help. The hand sanitizer just moves the unsafe foods that person has touched around their hands. But, the food is still there.

For example, if I ate a peanut butter sandwich and then used hand sanitizer, I have moved the peanut butter around my hand. It is still on my hands.

The best thing to do is to wash your hands with soap and water and then use hand sanitizer if you like.

When we don't have access to soap and running water, we use hand sanitizing wipes after going to the store or on bike rides. Hand wipes are wonderful and I take my hat off to the person who thought of this idea. I know it helps me to keep my daughter safe when we are on the go and want to eat a snack on the run.

Of course we have all learned that before eating anything you should wash or wipe your hands. But, especially in the case of a child with food allergies. Who knows what another child may have eaten or touched while walking around a store.

I also encourage our friends and family to not only wash their hands but, to also wash their mouths and even brush their teeth if they can. This is an extra precaution for friends or family members who may be hugging or kissing your child.

In the world of food allergies, you can never be "too" safe. And I am sure many parents would agree with me on this statement.

So rememeber to always wash your hands, it could save a child's life.

Stay well and stay safe.

Debra Denhart

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Constant Fear

Recently my daughter with severe food allergies to milk, eggs, peanuts, sesame, mustard, cats, dust and mold has expressed her emotions about her condition. She said she just needed a "break" from the stress of worrying all of the time. And she was angry that she can't have all of the other foods her friends have.

She also said, "I'm so tired of having to be careful all of the time and I'm tired of going to the hospital."

There is alot of emotional stress on a child with food allergies. I have read that some children can suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. This is very understandable when you consider the fear a child with food allergies deals with everyday.

An incident in school which occurred recently didn't help my daughters stress level unfortunately. After lunch, a girl from her class licked her whole hand and proceeded to push it towards my daughter and said, "I have the power."

My daughter was leaning against a wall and proceeded to just slide down the wall in fear. She knew the girl had hands pushed towards her that could really hurt her. This really had an impact on my daughter.

Some children have no understanding of what they are doing. I will be addressing this incident with the teacher and the principal.

How would you feel if you were in constant fear everytime you turned around because you knew there could be that one thing that could literally kill you?

She also expressed her sad memories of sitting alone in kindergarten and 1st grade. Food allergies can be very isolating for children. There should be more safe interaction in these grades so children don't feel so different and alone.

These isolating circumstances a child experiences can be very traumatic for children at any age. And trust me, those memories stay with them.

Please educate your children on the seriousness of food allergies. Maybe they won't be the child that licks their whole hand in jest and shoves it in someones face. Some children and even adults have no real understanding of how life threatening and emotionally stressful food allergies are.

It is not a joke! More people need to take action and educate their children to think about how it would feel to walk in one of these children's shoes for just one day.

It takes alot of courage to face their fears everday and I am so proud of my daughter for being brave today as she heads off to school. I know it was a tough day to face her fears, but she did it.

We just take one day at a time and so can you.

Stay well, stay safe and be brave!

Debra Denhart