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I had a slightly surreal experience last night, and I need to add on to my post yesterday about 4 reasons I am Jealous of My grandmother. Here’s the catchy title for reason #5: ‘Confused about whether my child is having an anaphylactic reaction from peanut desensitization or just still recovering from whooping cough.’

For the last 12 weeks, our daughter has been participating in a program to desensitize her to peanuts. It’s basically like allergy shots, but instead you give the person tiny doses of peanut over time, gradually building up to whole peanuts. It had been going really well until she caught the virus her younger sister had a month or two ago. She had a mild reaction to her dose, so we lowered her dose for a while.

We continued at this level, but her coughing kept going, and going and going. Just like her sister’s. First, it was diagnosed as environmental allergies, then the doctor suspected pneumonia, but both of their xrays were clear. The word pertussis, or whooping cough, came up, but it seemed unlikely given that both of our kids are vaccinated.

The younger girl finally improved (she had a 3 week head start), but her older sister was still going strong. We had another visit to the allergist, and she started to suspect that both had had pertussis and were recovering. Apparently, as more parents choose not to vaccinate (not passing any judgments here) and the virus is becoming more common, the doctor has seen more people get pertussis, regardless of their vaccination history. But it still seemed a little unlikely. Her coughing became less regular, and she seemed overall to improve.

So last night, my daughter started coughing and gasping after her dose of peanut. We popped over to the ER to see if she was still just recovering from her virus, or having a mild anaphylactic reaction to peanut. Lo and behold, despite the timing of her coughing – right after the dose – and her gasping for air, the doctor felt she was still just whooping a little. ‘They call it the 100 day cough in China,’ he smiled. He found no evidence of an allergic reaction, and the girls haven’t been contagious for weeks, so could go to school. And we found ourselves saying, ‘Thank goodness, it’s just whooping cough,’ because we were thrilled that we could continue with the desensitization program. And I know my grandmother never had THAT experience.

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