Monday, May 11, 2015

"That's No Ordinary Rabbit"

We are in Food Allergy Awareness Week. Technically, rabbits are food. However, I will not be speaking of them in that context.

Two weeks ago, a dear friend's husband had a life-threatening reaction to their pet rabbit. He had been having asthma problems which were related to the rabbit for some time. The rabbit had been relegated to the garage. Even so, this day, when he went into the garage, he had trouble breathing, used his asthma medication, found no relief, and eventually, was taken to the hospital. He was given epinephrine, Benadryl, and steroids. He left with a prescription for Epi-pens, steroids, and a refill for his inhaler, but, as is so familiar, very little instructions or directions on what to do next.

Here is my advice, having been down a similar path, somewhat generalized, for those who may walk this path again:

Avoid your Allergen

This is an emotional blow, different when you are talking about a beloved pet versus a food, but either way, those words, which seem simple on the face, are actually quite difficult. Quoting Dr. Dave Stukus, "Families told to get rid of their pets by their allergists find themselves a new allergist, not a new pet." And I know when James got his test results back, my second thought (after looking at the food) was to be relieved that he was not allergic to the dogs and cats.

Epi-Pens: Carry Them, Keep them Together

Obviously, a rabbit being easier to avoid than most allergens, it may seem like you don't need them with you always. There's a few reasons I would argue that with even a seemingly easy to avoid allergy, you always need your epi-pens with you:

  1. It can take months for your environment to be fully clean of the proteins from pet, even with thorough cleaning. Regarding mammalian proteins in an article about anaphylaxis from a horse allergy: "It is necessary to remember that the allergen levels decrease slowly over several months after pet removal." Gao et al, Wao Journal, Aug. 2009
  2. Other people own pets and allergic proteins are clingy. I, myself, have experienced going to the Urgent Care (not allergy related) only to be treated from the door way because the doctor's pet allergies were too severe to treat me. Note to self: Use tape roller before heading to Urgent Care?
  3. There is always the possibility that instead of the rabbit, the reaction was caused by the hay the rabbit was being fed. Grass (hay being a form of grass) is actually a more common allergy than rabbit. And a more common trigger.
Here is a link for a co-pay coupon for the Epi-pen.

See a Board-Certified Allergist

An allergist will be able to sort through the history and do the testing to determine what the allergy actually is. He will also be able to give an emergency action plan, clear for the entire family.

Rodent Allergies

This is information I found specific to rodent allergies.

What information would you share for someone newly diagnosed?


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