It is important to note that symptoms may vary and change with each exposure. If a reaction was “mild” once, that does not necessarily determine the severity of the next reaction. Ryan’s first reaction was immediate, systemic and full blown anaphylaxis. After that we have been extremely vigilant and luckily Ryan has not ingested peanuts again. He did have a contact reaction, but we were fortunate in that there was only external swelling involved with that incident.
An anaphylactic reaction may begin with a tingling sensation, itching, or a metallic taste in the mouth. Other symptoms can include hives, a sensation of warmth, wheezing or other difficulty breathing, coughing, swelling of the mouth and throat area, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, a drop in blood pressure, and loss of consciousness. These symptoms may begin within several minutes to two hours after exposure to the allergen, but life-threatening reactions may get worse over a period of several hours.
In some reactions, the symptoms go away, only to return two to three hours later. This is called a “biphasic reaction.” Often these second-phase symptoms occur in the respiratory tract and may be more severe than the first-phase symptoms. Studies suggest that biphasic reactions occur in about 20 percent of anaphylactic reactions. Ryan had a biphasic reaction and at 14 months of age received two injections of epinephrine and two injections of prednisone.
Below are some symptoms to look for. I have been told that anytime there are two or more of these symptoms to use the Epi-Pen. Epi-Pen has this list and additional information.
Swelling of lips and/or tongue
Shortness of breath