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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

My Nephew is Allergic to Bees

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It is hard enough bringing up four kids without having any extra challenges added to your list of things to do.


My sister thought she was getting into a routine by the time her fourth child arrived. She had everything packed, a babysitter lined up and everything went like clockwork for her as she brought her little Joey into the world.

His first year and half went well too.  He fit right in with the other three kids and they welcomed him quickly into their daily routine. It was a real joy when he reached the day he could walk and keep up with the other kids.

My sister remembers the day well. It was a bright, warm sunny day.  Her husband went to work and she decided to take the four kids to the park for a picnic. She called me and asked if I wanted to go with them.

“What a great idea!” I thought, so we headed off to the park.

When we arrived at the park, she and I set up the picnic table while her oldest took her younger siblings to the playground a short distance away.

While we were unpacking and setting up the table I heard a scream and then terrible crying. I couldn’t tell which one of the kids it was but when I reached the swing set I saw Joey’s face was swollen and all red and he was having trouble breathing.

I screamed at Mary asking what the heck happened. “Did he fall?”

She said that she was just pushing him on the swing when all of sudden he screamed and then started getting red in the face.  I called an ambulance and we went to the hospital.  We found out that he was severely allergic to bees and had gone into anaphylactic shock.

I had never heard of this and had to learn a lot in order not to worry about him dying if he got stung again. So what is anaphylactic shock and what causes it?


Anaphylactic Shock

Anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock is a severe allergic reaction caused by an allergy to any number of things.  In my nephew’s case it was bees, but foods, drugs and similar things can cause it.

For example, another common allergy is that of peanuts. It usually does not occur on your first acquaintance with the allergy causing agent because your body needs to build up antibodies to the substance.

For example, you get stung or eat peanut butter and your body says to itself, “Oh I detect a foreign substance that is not usually in my system.”

Once your body notices this foreign substance it builds up antibodies to fight them off. In most cases the antibodies are immunoglobulin E also known as IgE.  It is this IgE that triggers anaphylaxis.

It does this by binding to the allergen that enters your body either through a bee, peanut butter or whatever it is that you are allergic to. This binding causes a histamine which causes the following symptoms of anaphylactic shock.

  • Severe itching of face and eyes
  • Swollen face, eyes and windpipe
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Light-headedness

It was a good thing that we brought Joey to the emergency room because we learned that if anaphylaxis is not treated promptly you can die from it.

They gave Joey a shot of epinephrine and he got better very quickly.  Joey was kept overnight for observation and we were taught what to do if this were happen in the future.

We would have to carry an EpiPen® for him in case this ever happened again. We were instructed how to inject him with this if he had another reaction and then bring him to the hospital.

The EpiPen is an auto-injector with one dose of epinephrine in it. It is to be injected into the outer thigh when he goes into anaphylaxis. (There are EpiPens for children and adult EpiPens).

We felt kind of awkward at first but now this has all become second nature. We have one EpiPen at home and the nurse has one at school.  Now that he is older and in third grade we had to talk to the teachers about this as well as Joey’s friends.


Joey even knows how to give himself the shot.  If he goes to someone else’s house to play he takes the EpiPen with him and his friends also know how to inject it. There was a short time where my sister couldn’t afford the EpiPens and we found a place online where you can get one for free. If you or someone you know needs one you can go this website.

This article is for informational purposes only. You should contact your doctor with specific concerns or changes to your or your child’s health.

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