What Anaphylactic Shock REALLY Looks Like

We found out that my son has a severe peanut allergy on his first birthday. We were given an EpiPen prescription because there’s a risk that he’ll have anaphylactic shock if he ingests peanut. We immediately banned peanut inside our house as soon as we found out. It took us a while to get used to it because no one else in the family has an allergy (and I hope it stays that way); but we certainly tried our best to make sure he doesn’t come in contact with peanut, but despite our best efforts, he did.

Our First Emergency Care Visit

Let’s back up to one year ago. I had a training for work; and the training facility offered cookies (chocolate chip & oatmeal raisin) for afternoon snack. On my way out, I quickly grabbed a couple and was so excited to go home to my kids. As soon as I got home, I gave them the cookies. Shortly after, my son started itching and his face got swollen. I had no clue what to do; I didn’t know if we should administer EpiPen or not. We ended up rushing him to an Urgent Care facility where he was given steroids. I was also told that the EpiPen should only be used if he has anaphylactic shock. Since then, we’ve been really extra careful with anything he eats or comes in contact with.

My Son Ate A Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup

Fast forward to last night. We just got home from work and my kids quickly ran to the candies they got from Halloween. Both of them were sifting through their candies and deciding which one they’re going to ask my approval for. And then my daughter said she needed to go to the potty. Sometime between me going with my daughter to our bathroom downstairs and my husband sitting on the couch eating his afternoon snack, he ate a candy. And to my horror, it was a Reese’s peanut butter cup.

Shaking, I took our EpiPen from our drawer and kept it close to us. I watched him closely, watching his every move; I waited for any itching or hives. Five minutes later, nothing. So I thought maybe he already outgrew it. I spoke to soon. He started fussing and would open his mouth as if he’s going to throw up.

I tried to remember the past phone calls I had with his doctors when he had an allergic reaction to eggs. They would always ask if he can still eat or drink; they said a Benadryl would do if he still can and that he should be fine after. So I asked my husband for a glass of water and my son was able to drink it without any issues. Twenty five minutes later, he started coughing and fussing a lot. I started to see that he’s struggling to breathe.

a child having anaphylactic shock with a text the shocking truth you need to know about anaphylactic shock

When My Son Had Anaphylactic Shock And I Didn’t Know It

Is it time to give him his EpiPen? But what he was experiencing didn’t look like the ones I saw on the movies. Is it time to take him to an Emergency Care unit? There I was again, no clue what I should do. Restless, I called his doctor. But they were already closed so I had to wait for the on-call doctor to call me back. While waiting, I knew I had to do something. I asked my husband to prepare his Benadryl. But then the doctor called. She told me that any child with a known peanut allergy who is having a difficulty breathing should be given an EpiPen shot and rushed to the ER or call 911.

We administered his EpiPen shot and rushed him to ER. There, he was given steroids and a couple of antihistamines. He was released 3 hours after but should be closely monitored in case the symptoms come back since the peanut is still in his system.

Because of what happened, I learned 3 things.

Anaphylactic Shock Doesn’t Always Look Like The Ones On TV

I really wished parents of kids who have a high risk of anaphylactic shock are educated properly. Back when we found out that my son has a severe peanut allergy, we were trained how to administer EpiPen and were told to use it when he has anaphylactic shock. But no one told us what it looks like. For someone who haven’t dealt with any allergic reactions, my husband and I certainly didn’t know how that looks like. I’ve only seen the ones on TV. And to be honest, that’s what I was expecting to happen. That was my cue that it’s time to administer his EpiPen.

In the ER, I talked to the doctor and found out that anaphylactic shocks aren’t always instantaneous. They could be gradual like what my son experienced. Sometimes it could take 30 minutes, other times it takes a couple of hours.

I Wish I Did A Lot Of Research & Asked A Lot Of Questions

For someone who always turn to Google for anything I do not know how to do at work or for my blog, I didn’t bother researching what the symptoms of anaphylactic shock are. I used to do that A LOT – for anything I would feel. But after having kids, I stopped because I was told that for medical stuff, you should always rely on doctors. And I certainly didn’t want to misdiagnose my kids.

But realizing it now, I also lacked the effort to ask questions. The questions I needed to ask so I can recognize anaphylactic shock as soon as it happened.

We Are Still Very Blessed

Things could have ended differently tonight. The on-call doctor could have got delayed in calling me back and we could have given him Benadryl instead of his EpiPen shot. We could have waited too long and it could have been too late.

We are still very blessed that we did things at exactly the right time. We are still lucky that he’s okay now, playful and active just like he always is.

Am I blaming myself for what happened? Of course I do. I think all mom blame themselves for anything bad that would happen to their child! I feel terrible that it had to happen, that he had to undergo that, that we all had to experience it. Whenever I would ask him if he’s okay, he would tell me his thigh hurts because Daddy poked him. He remembered.

But I couldn’t wallow in it. I am a mom. I need to move on, learn from what happened, have hope that everything will be okay, and give all I could to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Even though I still can’t understand why he has to have a peanut allergy and why these things have to happen, I’d still stand by what I said 1 year ago when I found out he has a severe peanut allergy. Things happen for a reason; and soon enough, it will all make perfect sense.

I truly hope you find our experience helpful and the lessons I learned valuable; especially if your kid has a high risk of anaphylactic shock.

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a child having anaphylactic shock with a text how to know it's anaphylactic shock before it's too late

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  • Susan Cabezas
    Posted at 08:49h, 03 November Reply

    That is so scary Belle! I am relieved that is okay. Don’t blame yourself, you did all the right things! I had no idea that anaphylactic shock could come about not instantly… great info!

  • Carissa Link
    Posted at 09:55h, 03 November Reply

    I have a friend with a peanut allergy, but I’ve never had to witness a reaction. This is terrible – I am relieved your son is okay!! I would have honestly been in the same boat as you – unsure, questioning the symptoms – but I commend you for taking brave action!

  • Marcie
    Posted at 10:00h, 03 November Reply

    My niece and nephews are severely allergic to peanuts and it’s so crazy how easily it can happen. I remember one of them ate a Butterfinger after Halloween because they didn’t realize there were peanuts in it. But, now that they are older, they’ve learned to check the labels of everything.

    • Belle Bermudez-Tubel
      Posted at 23:02h, 05 November Reply

      Thank you for sharing, Marcie! SO sorry to hear about the Butterfinger incident!

  • Heather @FrenchPress
    Posted at 10:06h, 03 November Reply

    this sounds so scary; i have many friends with children that have severe allergies and i could not imaging the stress of always worrying about when to use the pen

  • Marissa @ Diytified
    Posted at 10:53h, 03 November Reply

    You must have been so frightened! I’m glad your son is okay. As an RN, there are SOOOOO many things I see in movies where I say to myself, “yeah right, that’s not what happens”. It seems there was a lack of education as far as describing what anaphylactic shock looks like. Thank you for posting this!

    • Belle Bermudez-Tubel
      Posted at 23:02h, 05 November Reply

      It was terrifying and certainly painful to watch my son struggling!

  • Ellie Augustin
    Posted at 12:27h, 03 November Reply

    Oh goodness that must of been so scary! None of my kids praise God are allergic to anything but I am and I just did a new allergy test and I was allergic to seafood but was able to eat shrimp well when they did the test this around my doc said guess what if you were to eat shrimp NOW you would be in trouble! You should get an epipen I was in SHOCK so I have test scheduled for the kids to do another round as it’s been years and what Ilearne dis that it can change as you get older! So happy your son is OK!

    • Belle Bermudez-Tubel
      Posted at 23:04h, 05 November Reply

      Oh no! So sorry to hear that! I hope you kids didn’t develop any allergy! Thank you for sharing!

  • Betty Boiron
    Posted at 12:31h, 03 November Reply

    I’m glad to hear everybody is ok. It must be so scary but it’s great you’re putting this out there so that more people can read about it and learn!

  • Rach
    Posted at 13:18h, 03 November Reply

    I am so glad to hear your son is okay! I am with you and wish they would educate the parents a little bit more. Because I would have reacted the same way as you and not sure when to use the EpiPen. Hopefully in the future, they medical facilities will educate us more. Thanks for bringing awareness.


  • Yolanda
    Posted at 14:03h, 03 November Reply

    What a scary story and I’m sorry your son and family have to go through this. I guess you are getting to be more of a pro on the topic, but at least you have more info now – but so so scary.

    • Belle Bermudez-Tubel
      Posted at 23:05h, 05 November Reply

      Yes, it was really terrifying! While I’m happy I got to find that out, the way I learned it wasn’t fun at all.

  • [email protected]
    Posted at 14:03h, 03 November Reply

    What a scary situation! This is such a helpful post, I wouldn’t know what shock looks like either! This is important for anyone around kids to know, just in case one has an allergy. I’m so glad your son is okay.

  • Lyndsey Piccolino
    Posted at 14:29h, 03 November Reply

    this is such a scary topic!! thank you for sharing! I would have no idea

  • My Veteran Woman Life
    Posted at 14:45h, 03 November Reply

    I always worried about my kids when they were younger, however, I was very fortunate that neither of them had allergies and could pretty much eat anything!

  • Babies to Bookworms
    Posted at 19:47h, 03 November Reply

    That is so scary! Allergies are so scary. I worked in a day care and I don’t know that I would have known in an emergency then either. Everyone should be better educated on this!

  • Gillian Kent
    Posted at 21:48h, 03 November Reply

    Nothing looks like it does on TV. My son had pneumonia and we totally missed it. He just looked wrong, no massive breathing issues or tearing coughs, but we took him to the ER and lo and behold pneumonia. 9 days in the hospital being treated with 3 different antibiotics. The worst – I wouldn’t know it again because the signs were so vague. I am glad your son is OK.

    • Belle Bermudez-Tubel
      Posted at 23:06h, 05 November Reply

      Thank you for sharing! I am so sorry to hear about your son! I really hope doctors do a better job of educating parents about all of these!

  • April Serio
    Posted at 22:03h, 03 November Reply

    That is crazy , I’m glad he is feeling okay. We moms worry a lot and it’s good to share your experience to raise awareness

  • Thena Reading-Franssen
    Posted at 01:28h, 05 November Reply

    I am so glad that he is okay! How scary, and thankfully you were keeping a close eye on him. Good job momma!

  • Kaitlyn Fickle Killebrew
    Posted at 20:17h, 05 November Reply

    I’m so glad to hear that he’s okay!!! I’ve never dealt with allergies like this so this post was a real eye opener for me!

  • Belle Bermudez-Tubel
    Posted at 23:03h, 05 November Reply

    It’s true what they that you have to learn the hard way! While I’m glad I learned what I needed to learn.. it’s just so painful to watch him struggling like that!

  • Belle Bermudez-Tubel
    Posted at 23:04h, 05 November Reply

    Thank you, Adree!

  • Shani Ogden
    Posted at 23:54h, 05 November Reply

    Such a scary moment! My husband is allergic to tree nuts and thankfully we’ve only had one real scare since we’ve been married when he had to go to the ER, so I have some idea of what you went through but I definitely think it would be even scarier with a child because they can’t necessarily tell you what’s going on. Glad everything turned out okay!

    • Belle Bermudez-Tubel
      Posted at 16:20h, 21 November Reply

      That is so true! I hope that’s the only scare you’re going to have.

  • Nicole Flower
    Posted at 11:47h, 06 November Reply

    Oh wow this sounds so scary. I am so glad you and your husband know what to do for him now. My two oldest girls are not allergic but I don’t know if my third baby girl is yet? Thank you for sharing your experience.
    xo, Nicole

  • A Side of Crunchy
    Posted at 06:27h, 07 November Reply

    I’m so sorry. This must be such a scary moment for your family. Thank you for educating me on the topic.

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