We may deal with a few more food allergies than most, but honestly we have felt lucky in several regards. In particular, that Bubba is the only one of our children with food allergies. Well it seems our luck may have run out. Yesterday Big Girl and her Daddy went out for a morning bagel-date and Home Depot run. Big Girl got an Everything bagel (the seedy kind) which she has eaten many times before. On the way to the store she ate the bottom half (seed-free). On the way home from the store she ate the top half. Within a few minutes she started complaining of itchy ears. Weird my husband thought, but nothing to be alarmed about because, after all, this kid doesn’t have food allergies. When she got home she told me her belly itched and as she was scratching her shirt lifted up and I caught sight of a hive. Weird, but maybe she got into something at the store that irritated her skin? I got out the hydrocortisone cream and lifted up her shirt only to discover a few more hives. As I applied cream, a few more popped up. Then a few more.
Her ears were bright red at the top. Very weird, but no biggie I thought. Must be viral hives. She’d had a mild fever a couple days before and tummy trouble the night before. Couldn’t be anything more than that because this kid doesn’t have food allergies. I gave her a Benadryl and called the pediatrician to confirm my hunch about viral hives. They agreed that was the likely cause and even said they had seen a few kids with viral hives that week. So, no biggie.
We headed out to Big Girl’s first soccer game of the season. When she got out of the car, I lifted her shirt to make sure her hives had calmed down with the Benadryl. No such luck. Her skin looked like it was on fire. Her hives had gotten so large they were spreading into each other. They now extended into her groin and across her back. We left and headed straight to the pediatrician’s office a bit dumb-founded but feeling lucky to have Bubba’s Epi-Pens in hand in case we needed them.
The doctor said her hives were way too severe to be viral hives. She prescribed Ranididine (Zantac) in addition to the Benadryl we had already given her. Using an H2 histamine blocker in addition to an H1 blocker has better results. We were told to go to the ER at the first sign of any facial swelling or trouble breathing. And obviously we will need to get Big Girl some allergy testing. My hunch is that the sesame seeds are the culprit. They are a severe allergy of Bubba’s and they are actually a fairly common allergen (“Top 10” in Canada). Although she has safely eaten them before, allergies can develop at any time.
Some more information about sesame allergies:
- It is estimated that 0.1% to 0.6% of the U.S. population is allergic to sesame. Sesame allergies are on the rise, but this is thought to be mostly from its growing popularity.
- About 25% of peanut and tree nut allergic individuals also react to sesame. There appears to be some link between peanut allergies and sesame allergies which is not yet understood. The rise in peanut allergies may be contributing somewhat to the rise in sesame allergies.
- Sesame can cross-react to kiwi, rye, hazelnuts, and poppy seeds
- Because sesame is not a “Top 8” allergen in the U.S., it does not need to be listed on a food ingredient list. Sesame can be in ‘spices’ or ‘flavorings’.