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My Husband Has Severe Food Allergies

Updated on March 30, 2009

We Have To Always Be On Guard

My husband, Eric, has several severe food allergies. His mother, Valerie, also has several severe food allergies. Eric is allergic to all dairy, peanuts, eggs, & wheat. The dairy & peanuts will cause him to go into anaphylactic shock, and need immediate medical attention. The eggs will cause Eric to become very lethargic, his brain muddled, his reactions slow. He has said that after he has eaten eggs, he just wants to sleep for the next couple of days.

His wheat allergy presents itself mildly. It produces phlegm, and he coughs a couple of times after a meal. But the coughing spell is short-lived and then he's back to normal. He jokingly says that he refuses to acknowledge his wheat allergy because he already has so many. Most of Eric's food allergies were discovered when he was very young, although the egg allergy wasn't diagnosed until his later childhood.

I keep meaning to purchase an epi-pen to keep in the car, just in case Eric eats something he's allergic to. I think, although he is always very careful, that an epi-pen would be a wise thing to have handy.

We have had a couple close calls, like when we were eating at Jimmy John's (a sub sandwich restaurant), and Eric asked for "no cheese", but they put cheese on it anyway. Eric didn't realize there was cheese until he started feeling some mild effects of anaphylactic shock. We sat, holding hands, until it passed and he was well again. He got a new sandwich made and a refund on the old one, which was professional of Jimmy John's, but it still scared us to death! (Or should I say, I was scared to death!)

So, even though we're both very careful to know the exact ingredients in food (especially when we eat out), mistakes do sometimes happen. Just a couple weeks ago, Eric ate some homemade gingersnap cookies that our good friends from church baked. They weren't sure if there was butter or milk in the cookies, so Eric ate a small bite and waited for a few minutes. He felt no reaction, so he ate half of a cookie, and still nothing. So he ate a whole cookie and still felt fine. Well, he ended up eating about 10 cookies, and only as we were leaving did he feel slightly nauseous. The feeling passed within a few minutes, so he thought nothing of it. Only later did the baker of the cookies call Eric & tell him that the cookies were loaded with butter!

So apparently dairy, when baked into something, must not be as potent as normal dairy products. These are the hard lessons we've learned about Eric's food allergies.

Food allergies are becoming more & more prevalent in children, perhaps because technology enables premature babies to survive, when they may have died in earlier times.

I wanted to tell Eric's story and encourage anyone who thinks they may have food allergies to get tested.

He Eats More Than Just Jello

My husband eating Jello with chopsticks.
My husband eating Jello with chopsticks.


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    • profile image

      lindsey 6 years ago

      he should have an epi pen EVERYWHERE he goes

    • infonolan profile image

      infonolan 6 years ago from Australia

      I would have to agree with Missy, I would say that avoiding dairy in the way that your husband does is not being very careful at all. Sorry to hear about all these allergies though, and I wish I could be of more help to you. I suffer from Coeliac disease and simply cannot afford to take ANY samples of ANYTHING that 'may contain gluten' (oh, how I wish I could just do that!). It's hard (I know many who have to avoid serious allergens like soy, corn and other foods 'like the plague' - these particularly are very difficult), but that's life. One thing I get much pleasure out of is cooking from scratch. That way I know of everything that goes into everything.

      Hopefully things get easier for you guys. I find what works well for me is always labelled foods so that I can check the ingredients list. All the best. Kelly

    • profile image

      Missy @ Marketing mama 8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing. We have severe food allergies in our family as well. I would recommend you keep a little kit with benedryl and epi-pen in it at all times. If his food allergies are so serious, that is the only thing that can save him if he goes into shock. Epi-pen first, benedryl second. If it's a minor reaction - benedryl first, then watch for multiple symptoms.

      Epi pens expire each year and need to be replaced. you can't keep them in the car (unless you live in a place that is 70 degrees 24 hours a day) because they can't tolerate temperature fluctuations. There are many types of epi pen holders on the market to attach to a body, clip on ones (like a cell phone) or strap-on ones you wear under your clothes strapped onto your leg.

      I don't think taking small bites of foods you don't know the ingredients of is very careful ... those cookies could have been made in a bowl or baked on a pan with peanut butter in it! I'd be worried about that in addition to the butter. Eating away from home is challenging for people with food allergies, but baked goods (including bread) are among the most dangerous because they are often prepared near or on the same equipment as other dairy and nuts. As you said, they are serious, so please prepare for the worst so you don't end up a statistic!

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 8 years ago from Wisconsin

      Wow! Things you don't think of. Good luck in keeping a watchful eye out.

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 8 years ago

      I'm sure you will get lots of advice from people regarding your husband's serious condition. It must be difficult to go out to eat and have many restrictions, and frightening close calls. I'm inviting you to check out Homeopathy World Community where you might pose this question about finding a solution to allergies. Homeopaths from around the world are discussing all types of health issues. I always say, "never give up hope" on finding ways to heal.


      Debby, CHOM

    • mulberry1 profile image

      mulberry1 8 years ago

      I have a cousin with similar allergies. I can't imagine having so many food restrictions but I guess it's as you don't miss what you've never had. Well written and interesting hub!

    • Leah Kay, The Pup profile image

      Leah Kay, The Pup 8 years ago from Anywhere-USA

      Wow! I really feel for your hubby! I too suffer from food allergy, but nothing like what he goes through. Most that happens to me is I break out in hives on a daily basis...when tested for food allergy, it effected my asthma and ended up in the hospital. So my doctor wrote on my chart food allergies: ALL...

      We met a young girl that could not have any starch food. So for her birthdays, she could not have a cake, but instead her parents bought her an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbin. She cannot have bread, potatoes, rice nothing with any kind of starch...poor girl...

    • relawshe profile image

      Rachel L 8 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Thanks, Denny Lyon, for your thoughts & encouragement! And don't be sorry; my husband has never eaten those foods that the rest of us enjoy, so he doesn't know what he's missing! (like chocolate, milk, sour cream, peanut butter, etc...) We'll check into the clarified butter idea, too. Thanks!

    • Denny Lyon profile image

      Denny Lyon 8 years ago from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

      Food allergies this severe are really something, sorry to hear about it. I wrote a hub about food dislikes and have often wondered if people were really in the early stages of developing a food allergy without realizing it.

      As to the butter cooked in a product, he MIGHT (don't know for sure so check with a doctor about this) be able to eat well clarified butter. Clarifying the butter removes and cooks the milk solids, making it happier for cholesterol - but now to think of it might make it possible for allergic folks to eat. I wonder what his doctor has to say about it? Might make yet another hub for you! :)

    • Lgali profile image

      Lgali 8 years ago

      very good wrting