Friday, January 21, 2011

Anaphylaxis and the coughing nightmare

I'm sure I've blogged about this before since it's on my mind I thought I would write about it again.  Last night we had another of those weird, scary nights where I almost injected Alexa with her Epi Pen.  She has had an ongoing cough for 3 weeks but we've been watching it and giving her her inhalers.  Yesterday, she had a concert at school so (for the first time) I sent her to "extended day" and she stayed at school until 5:30 pm.   I had packed her a snack so that I didn't have to worry about what they were serving or if the teachers knew what to feed her.  When I picked her up,  I gave her the pizza I brought for her-our typical Thursday night Papa John's pizza.  After she completed her performance we headed home.  On the way home, she coughed a little and complained "I'm so tired, I just want someone to carry me"-given the circumstances we chalked it up to exhaustion from the long day and all the excitement.  As she was going to bed she said, "my tummy hurts Mom."  This gave me pause, but seeing how she had just guzzled down her milk, I thought that might be the cause (even though my mommy instinct said "beware-check on her".)  Sure enough, about an hour later she woke up coughing with that tell tale "I'm gonna puke" sound.  I'm sure you Mom's know what I'm talking about.  I rushed her to the bathroom where she promptly got sick but that cough-that damn cough-it didn't stop.  Hacking and hacking-gasping for breath-it was really, really frightening.  I kept asking her to calm down, breath, talk to me, does your throat itch? does it feel tight? what's happening honey? She just kept hacking, heaving, and gasping.  I told my husband to please get the benadryl (my first line of defense when this happens with her).  I gave her some, but the coughing continued.  I gave her a sip of water, but the coughing continued.  I started to wonder what was going on.  Could it be the pizza? Is it possible her pizza could have been contaminated somehow? Was this a delayed allergic reaction? I was very worried.  I asked her if she had eaten anything else at school, something I hadn't packed for her, nothing.  I gave her albuterol and although the cough continued it lightened up alittle.  She started to talk to me calmly, her color was good and everything seemed ok.  She just wanted to go back to sleep. So,  I tucked her in with us so I could watch over her.  She coughed ALL night.  Not like every 10 minutes like every 1 for hours! Nothing helped.  More albuterol, more benadryl, humidifier, cough drops, ice chips, nothing.  I was worried sick and exhausted.   At 3am she started screaming that her throat hurt when she coughed.  I checked her throat and sure enough it was red and swollen.  I gave her some throat spray and fed her a popsicle to sooth her throat.   When she was done she went back to bed.  At 3:30 am she finally stopped coughing and feel into a deep sleep.  She slept until 7am when our alarms went off.  Today I'm left wondering, could this have been allergy related? She's coughing today but not too badly, no fever and her throat looks better than last night.  When you have a child who is anaphylactic and asthmatic these situations can be SO scary.  I really worry that I'll make "the wrong call" and fail to give her Epinephrin when she needs it.  Anyone out there have any advice for me?  We are headed to the Dr. soon to review everything but I'm praying for a nice, quiet, sleep filled night tonight for all of us.


  1. An epi pen can stop both an asthma attack and an allergic reaction, so you are covered both ways. The epi will not have any negative effects on your daughter's health, just make her jittery for awhile, if you give it when it is not needed. It will provide immediate relief, and make the reaction time much shorter. Instead of hours of suffering, it will be better in a matter of minutes. Think: If she were at school, what would I want the teacher to do right now? Then do it. Talk to your allergist about when to administer, as I was not well informed when I got mine and did not know that there are lots of ways for an allergic reaction to express itself.

  2. Thanks for this! I JUST learned this from another Mom the other day and if this happens again she's getting it. It was one ROUGH night-and very scary. Thanks for reading my blog and for all the tips and advice ;-)