What a pile of croup: the false alarm

As readers of this blog will know, in April 2012 my son (D) had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to peanuts. We were initially told to avoid peanuts, all other nuts and soya. When we attended the hospital for skin prick tests, the doctors advised us to carry out our own testing for soya at home.

So, on 18 June, early afternoon, I made D a piece of buttered toast with soya-containing bread. With his EpiPen, inhaler and bottle of desloratadine close to hand, I first fed him a couple of crumbs. Then waited 15 minutes. No reaction. Then a small mouthful. Then waited 15 minutes. No reaction. Then a quarter of a round. Then the remainder of the piece of bread.

He showed no signs of a reaction and I was really pleased that soya was back on the menu (this would make buying pre-packed sandwiches and snacks so much easier when we were out and about).

However, that night, at around midnight, we were woken up to the sound of D struggling to breathe. Rushing into his room, our first thought was that he was having an asthma attack. Then we remembered the soya tests of that afternoon. Ian thought his breathing sounded the same as when he had eaten the peanut cookie. Was this some kind of delayed allergic reaction to the bread?

We had been told, if ever in doubt, don’t dither, use the EpiPen, as if it is unnecessary it won’t cause D any harm. (Just a reminder – I have no medical expertise and am not giving any advice – just recounting my personal experience).

So we sprang into action, administering the EpiPen, dialling 999, giving him 10 puffs of his blue inhaler and a spoonful of desloratadine.

His breathing calmed down (but was still noisy). As we waited for the ambulance (which arrived within minutes), Ian and I just kept saying to each other “What’s this now? This isn’t peanuts. What on earth has triggered this?”

When the paramedics arrived, they quickly realised it was an asthma attack brought on by croup. Ian and D were taken to hospital, where D was given steroids for his breathing.

So, what to draw from this experience? Well, although we felt like utter idiots and guilty (for both giving D an unnecessary injection and wasting the paramedics’ time), on the plus side we were able to rehearse what to do in an emergency situation if he ever has an anaphylactic reaction. And fortunately C slept through the entire drama.


  1. Aw, I don’t think you should feel like idiots, nor should you feel guilty. We had a very similar thing happen (http://www.amazingandatopic.com/2012/10/take-fear-out-of-epinephrine.html) and I think you should be glad that you didn’t hesitate to administer epinephrine, when you saw the possible signs of a reaction. Far too often, people hesitate to administer epinephrine, with tragic results. Good for you for acting quickly, even if it wasn’t ultimately needed. Your son did need treatment for his croup, though, which he received.

    1. Thank you! And I absolutely agree with what you say in your blog, looking back, I know it was far better to have not needed to use the EpiPen and have administered it, than to have needed it and not have administered it.

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