Living With Food Allergies

A Simple Meal Can Turn into a Medical Emergency

Using an epinephrine auto-injector for a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis can save a child’s life. However, up to 20% of the time, a second wave of symptoms can return hours later. When symptoms return, this is called a biphasic reaction. Anyone who experiences anaphylaxis is at risk for a biphasic reaction. For this reason, patients need to go to the hospital to be monitored for at least 4 hours and to receive any additional treatment to manage the reaction.


Jacob, age 9, playing at Hickory Run State Park in Pennsylvania.

Jacob Geremia and his family learned about biphasic anaphylaxis the hard way. The day he suffered an anaphylactic reaction remains seared in his parents’ memory. It was June 2006 when Jacob’s mom gave him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for the first time. It seemed like a good idea since the family was driving to North Carolina’s Outer Banks for vacation and PB&J sandwiches would be easy for the car ride. Well, easy is not what the trip was destined to be. After Jacob ate the sandwich, he ended up in the emergency room, covered in hives and gasping for air. Watching the emergency personnel work so quickly to help him was impressive, scary and surreal for his parents. Luckily, Jacob’s symptoms resolved, but he remained in the emergency room to be monitored. Then, just a few hours later, it all started happening again. Jacob was having a biphasic reaction. Watching everyone descend to his hospital room again was much more upsetting this time, since his parents knew what was coming.

Up to 20% of anaphylactic reactions are followed by a biphasic reaction.

Jacob has been anaphylaxis-free for 8 years now and counting! Jacob’s parents feel that he is blessed to be surrounded by friends, family and teachers who keep him safe, and they are thankful for the help they’ve had along the way from KFA. Jacob’s mom says that becoming involved in KFA has been invaluable for resources, information, support, recipes and advocacy.

Additionally, Jacob and his family just participated in KFA’s Strides for Safe Kids Mall Walk and Expo, and raised $658 to support KFA’s mission.

KFA needs your support year-round to continue keeping kids with food allergies safe and healthy. To host your own fundraiser, visit stridesforsafekids.org today.