Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Seriousness of Peanut Allergies

Here is a sad article about a 13 year old girl with peanut allergy who dies after ingesting a snack that contained peanuts in it.  She died despite spitting out the snack right after tasting it and despite benadryl and multiple doses of epipen injection.

Food allergies have become more prevalent in this generation and as this article demonstrates, allergies to certain foods, especially peanuts, can be extremely serious.  

Thankfully, none of my kids currently have any serious food allergies but it is wise to be aware of the potential.

Dr Joann Lin, board certified in both Adult and Pediatric Allergy and Immunology and General Pediatrics shares some important facts:
  1. Peanut allergy is separate from Tree nut allergies because peanuts are legumes and do not grow from trees.  People can be allergic to only peanuts, only tree nuts, or both.
  2. There is high cross reactivity amongst tree nuts so it usually recommended that if you are allergic to one tree nut, avoid all tree nuts.
  3. The likelihood of outgrowing a peanut or tree nut allergy is only about 20%.
  4. Peanut and tree nut allergies can be acquired suddenly in adulthood.
  5. It is recommended that an epinephrine autoinjector should be carried at all times.  They now come in 2-packs.  It is recommended that the packs stay together because the first injection might not work, or the reaction is persistent, and you might need the second one.
  6. There are currently three types of epinephrine autoinjectors in the market: Epipen, AuviQ (provides audio instructions), and generic epinephrine autoinjector.  Each device works differently.  Physicians should "dispense as written" and train patients with the appropriate trainer because at time of emergency, people are usually in panic mode and don't have time to read the instructions.
  7. If epinephrine autoinjector is used, seek immediate medical attention. The autoinjector basically "buys you time" to get to a doctor.  There is a risk of a persistent allergic reaction and the epinephrine does wear off in a few minutes.  Epinephrine is basically adrenaline so the biggest side effect would be a little jitteriness.
  8. Any organ system can be affected with a severe allergic reaction. Skin = hives and swelling of lips, face, tongue, throat, Lungs = wheezing, cough, asthma attack, GI = vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramping, Cardiovascular = headache, fainting, weakened pulses.
  9. Use epinephrine autoinjector when there is more than a little rash - ie rapidly progressing rash, if you're not sure, or other organ systems are affected; Liquid Benadryl orally works the fastest, but it still takes 15-20 minutes for it to work. No one will ever fault you for using the epinephrine "too early."
  10. Most at-risk population for bad reaction and possible death - preteens/ teens/ young adults.  Because they have "forgotten" how severe the reaction was and may forget to ask about foods, because they are now becoming more independent and doing sleepovers, and because they "want to be like" everyone else
  11. Most peanut allergic individuals tolerate products cooked in peanut oil (think Chick fil a) because it is highly refined. Peanut oils that are cold-pressed, expelled, or extruded, however, still have the peanut allergen.     
  12. Currently there is no cure for peanut or tree nut allergy.  Oral desensitization is mainly done in academic centers; it is still dangerous and should be discussed with your allergist.  
  13. Great resource: Food Allergy Research and Education:

Dr Joann Lin has a private practice in Texas.  You can read more about her and her office here.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Best Kept Secret Amusement Park... Knoebels

For those of you who have never heard of Knoebels... it is a true hidden gem in Pennsylvannia!  Shhh... don't tell too many folks because it is not super crowded and we want to keep it that way!

During 4th of July weekend, we went there with our three kiddos and even camped.  Yes... with my prego belly and all, I decided to brave the heat and discomfort and just do it for the sake of the kids.  They loved it and had a blast.

So Knoebels is an amusement park that is extremely family oriented.  There are many positive things to say about it but I'll just list a few here...

There is no admission fee!  You only pay per ride and most of the kiddie rides are around $1.  This is a huge money saver because most of the time, my husband and I are not riding any rides anyway.  In fact, this trip my husband and I went on zero rides.  Most other parks, adult tickets cost more than the children tickets.  So paying close to one hundred dollars per adult to just walk around the park and watch the small kiddos ride their small kiddie rides is pretty silly.  Maybe when our kids grow older, we can go on rides again.  Either that or we somehow find a way to take turns going on adult rides by ourselves but how fun is it to go on a rollercoaster alone?  

Next time we go, we need to go to a Weis Market where you can buy a $20 ticket book for $16!  They also have something called Bargain Nights where certain Wednesday and Friday nights, you can go on unlimited rides after 5pm for $7.50 per kid and $10 per adult.  We just bought for our kids and watched them have fun.

There is hardly a wait to get on rides!  At least this was the case for the kiddie rides that my kids went on (ages 5, 3, and just turned 2).  This is a gigantic plus... especially if you compare with Disney where you have to sometimes wait half an hour or longer.  Little kiddies (at least my little kiddies) are impatient and have a very hard time waiting in general.

The park food is great with very reasonable prices.  In fact, they are the 13 time winner of Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Award for Best Food.  I got a tip to try their perogies and hash browns.  $3 per order and very delicious.  They also have very yummy home made ice cream.  In addition to the food being pretty good and reasonable, this park allows you to bring outside food in.  I don't think I've ever been to any other amusement park where you can do that.  They all seem to want you to buy their overpriced food!  Knoebels also has lots of waterfountains where you can bring your own water bottle to fill instead of buying overpriced water bottles that you'd expect at other parks.

They have plenty of rides and even free entertainment.  Currently, the park has 60 rides and my kids love that they have so many little kiddie rides that they can go on by themselves.  Even little E who just turned two was having a blast riding by himself.  While waiting to go to dinner at the Alamo (the one sit-down air conditioned restaurant in the park) we were able to watch some singing/dancing shows.  It was all very entertaining.

The waterpark was great on a hot day.  They charged $4.50/child and $6.50/adult for full day of access to their pool and kiddie splash area.  My kids had a blast.  It was a great way to escape the heat.  In fact, we spent the majority of the day in the water park area and then did the bargain all-you-can-ride after 5pm.  Was a wonderful tiring day...

Camping at the park was icing on top for the kids.  My youngest was probably too young to really enjoy it, but the two older girls had fun sleeping in a tent and doing the whole smores and campfire thing.  Sure, it was hot and noisy... but overall the kids were so tired by the end of the day, they slept through the night.  I loved that we picked a site so close to the bathroom.  However, I did not love that other campers would constantly walk through our site to get to the bathroom.  We'll have to be more strategic next time and camp next to or diagonal to the bathroom or something instead of directly across.  Also... next time, I think we'll go in the fall.  Weather would be cooler then.  So in terms of campgrounds, this is not the nicest we've been to since it is so crowded and loud but it is fairly well kept and walking distance to the park.  We will likely make this a tradition and we'll be back!

Oh... I forgot to mention... parking is free, too!  I love this park.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Protecting kids' skin from the sun

How are you protecting your children from the sun this summer? This is from CNN where Holly Firfer reports on the measures parents can take to minimize sun damage to their children's skin.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Bug Phobia

Guess what daddy did with the three kids while I was away on my health conference in Boston?  Apparently, he was on a mission to desensitize them to bugs!  They went on a bug hunt around the house.  My oldest even had a magnifying glass and all three were very involved in searching, finding, and even touching them!  Bugs they found and touched included silver fish, stink bugs, and even spiders...  Well, daddy said they wouldn't touch the stink bugs but they touched all the others.  Ugh.

So I'm afraid of bugs.  I realize now it is probably because I was never really exposed to them in positive light when growing up.  So it's pretty ridiculous but there would be times where I would be standing 10 feet away with a shoe in my hand trying to swat at a little bug.  I realize that if I don't want all my kids growing up completely paralyzed and fearful of these little critters, I need to minimize my "freak out" response when I see them.  Between my au pair and myself, we are probably causing my little ones to fear and hate bugs.  So husband decided to take it upon himself to get them to like bugs!

Yuck... I'm having a hard time even looking at these pictures without feeling panicky... 

The treatment for phobia is actually exposure in a controlled setting with positive feedback.. something called "flooding".  Not sure if it will work for me unless I go through intense therapy but for the little kids since they are still young... probably easier to desensitize them.  We'll see...

Daddy actually has been catching all sorts of critters in our backyard for them to touch... frogs, a little turtle... he even considered bringing in a garter snake!  Reptiles... bugs... not really my thing...