Not too long ago I received an inaudible, yet frantic phone call from my mother. All I could decipher from our whole conversation was that my dad was at the Mercy San Juan Hospital and she wanted me to find him. I was confused whether she was telling my that my dad had taken someone to the hospital or if he was the one in the hospital. After getting my dad on his cell phone, I found that he was even harder to understand, more inaudible than my mom. My mom sounded panicky; my dad on the other hand sounded like he was struggling to speak. I arrived at the hospital and gave the nurse my dad’s name and sure enough, he had been admitted to the emergency room not an hour prior.
It turned out that my dad had a severe allergic reaction from drinking a small glass of soy milk and his head was now the size of a giant beach ball. All I could do was stare in amazement at his large head while wondering how a human head could possibly get so big. I once was told by my allergist that food allergies can come and go as we age. In my dad’s case, this small glass of soy milk, the cause of this life threatening reaction, was the first time in his life he had ever reacted so severely to a food product. Being a veteran public health nurse, my dad knew what to do when the reaction hit. I would now like to describe to you what happens when you are having an immediate severe allergic reaction to soy milk and what you need to do to help yourself if it happens. Also, you need to know how to prepare for possible future reactions.
Top symptoms you want to look for:
Upon first contact you may notice an uncontrollable tickle in your throat. Your nose might start to run and your eyes may being watering. If the reaction is severe enough, you could start breaking out into hives, small itchy skin bumps or rash like clusters, which could then lead to a feeling of lightheadedness and disorientation. Swelling of the lips, ears, tongue and other areas of you face may enhance the disorientation you are already experiencing. The life threatening symptom will be if your throat begins to swell shut, rendering you unable to breathe properly, if at all. This is called anaphylactic shock. Keep in mind that these are immediate symptoms of a severe allergic reaction to soy milk. Some people may react slower and not as harsh as others.
What to do if you are having a sudden severe reaction:
You need to get to the hospital as soon as possible. When your airway is closing off quickly, time is of the essence. If you don’t think that you will make it to the hospital on your own or in time, call 911 for help. Likewise, if you are someone witnessing this and the allergy victim appears too disoriented or panicked to make logical decisions, then you need to become their lifeline.
After you have been diagnosed with a soy allergy:
Your doctor will more than likely write you a prescription for an epi-pen, an auto-injector with a dose of epinephrine. There is an epi-pen junior for small children which has a smaller dose. You will need to use an epi-pen only if your soy allergy will lead to anaphylaxis, the closing of your throat. The best and most effective way to make sure you do not have an allergic reaction will be to completely stay away from soy milk and possibly soy products altogether. This sounds easy enough until you have to read all the ingredients on all food packaging before buying.