A doctor who spent hours tending to her babies crying through the night from the pain of allergies wants to ease the anxiety of other families like hers.
GP Kylie Morse, of Wellington's Newtown, had a history of allergies in her family, but it was not until her own children – Emily, 6, and Edwyn, 4 – were born with multiple food and environmental allergies that she realised how little she really knew.
"It made life very difficult, particularly in the first few years of both of them."
When Emily was months old, her eczema was so severe she had to be wrapped in wet bandages to soak moisture into her dry skin. Because of her scratching, she had to wear mitts and sleep in a sleeping bag to avoid infection.
At 18 months old she was found to have asthma. Six months later, she got allergic rhinitis – inflammation of the nasal airways – giving her a constant runny nose, lack of hearing and black bruising around her eyes.
Now in her first year of primary school, Emily – who can pronounce anaphylaxis perfectly – is still allergic to nuts, eggs, kiwifruit and sesame. She takes about five drugs twice a day, in nasal spray, oral and inhaler form.
She has grown out of her previous allergies to dairy, wheat, shellfish and fish, and has started immunotherapy to try to suppress her allergy to grass and dustmites.
Despite all this, "she is really quite relaxed about it", Dr Morse said.
She hopes Edwyn, who is also asthmatic, will grow out of his allergies to milk and egg, as he is now able to tolerate them in baking.
This week is National Allergy Week, and Dr Morse, an Allergy New Zealand board member, wants to increase education among other GPs, so that better advice can be given to families like hers. One in 10 New Zealanders has allergies, and the number is increasing.
The medications, creams, bandages and special foods for allergic children add about $100 to weekly costs.
"All of that falls on the families. Often as a mother with allergic children, you can feel that people don't always fully understand that. They see you as an anxious mother."
She was teaching her children resilience and how to look after themselves, as she would have to "let go" eventually.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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