These days, concerns about nut allergies are so common that many parents say they’re exhausted by the constant warnings.
They gripe that their children are not allowed to bring certain snacks to school, and complain to each other about how hard it can be to plan for a birthday party.
But one mother’s shocking Facebook post is a good reminder to the rest of us that allergies should never be taken lightly.
Julie Berghaus. 41, was actually taking her 3-year-old daughter, Maren, for an allergy test when the little girl started to feel itchy.
She had only eaten a tenth of a cashew as part of the test, but soon Maren's ears and then the rest of her body were painfully itchy. The doctor quickly realized Maren was suffering from anaphylaxis, an extreme allergic reaction which can be fatal.
During anaphylaxis, the body can go into shock as an allergy sufferer’s airway tightens, making it hard for them to breathe. And it takes as little as a few seconds for the symptoms to set in.
Berghaus says she chose to share a concerning photo of her daughter with an oxygen mask strapped to her face so other parents would understand that allergies are no joke.
"There was no drama. No nothing. No panic," Berghaus told Today about the moments before her daughter’s attack. "She was playing on the iPad and scratching with the other hand."
Thankfully, doctors gave Maren shot of epinephrine (the medicine used in an EpiPen) and a Zyrtec pill before her reaction intensified.
Still, painful hives spread over the girl’s body, and she struggled to breathe before passing out. It took more shots and a steroid treatment before the reaction finally subsided.
"It only took about 10 minutes to get out of that dangerous zone," Berghaus said. "It took about two hours to completely get the hives gone. She was fine. She was like nothing ever happened."
Still, the reaction was dramatic enough to frighten Berghaus, who is an operating room nurse.
The mom from Frisco, Texas, also told other parents how to react if they see an allergic reaction like this in public:
Please if you are one of the people that cares for my child or spends time with her, be careful what you eat around her, what you give her, and DON’T be afraid to give [epinephrine]. She had zero side effects from the epi. It could save her life.