After her son experienced a near-fatal asthma attack induced by the consumption of a popular treat, a Florida mom is using her brush with tragedy to warn others of the danger.
Racheal Richard McKenny took to Facebook last week to tell of how her 7-year-old son Johnny, who suffers from very mild asthma, became extremely short of breath after eating Dragon’s Breath, a snack coated in liquid nitrogen so that you look like you’re breathing smoke out of your nose and mouth.
Luckily, McKenny was able to make it to a nearby fire station in time for her son to receive life-saving treatment. But she worries that other families might not be so lucky, and so she took the opportunity to stress that children with even mild asthma should not consume this potentially very dangerous snack.
Read her now-viral Facebook post below:
McKenny starts out by explaining that Dragon’s Breath, a cereal-like snack that is served at mall kiosks, seems like harmless fun. When her son wanted to try it after seeing a video of the snack in action, McKenny assumed it was safe.
While she typically carries an inhaler if the family has plans to do anything active, like biking or walking, McKenny did not have it with her that day. She also notes that although they have a nebulizer at home, it’s only used “two or three times a year,” typically when Johnny has a cold or upper respiratory infection. She now deeply regrets that she did not have either of these devices on hand when the incident occurred.
Johnny ate the treat shortly before leaving the mall and, 10 minutes into the ride home, he began to cough. His symptoms quickly escalated, and McKenny and her husband, John, realized they would not make it to the hospital in time. Thankfully, John knew of a nearby fire station.
“I’ve lived in St. Augustine for more than 25 years and didn’t know there was one there,” she wrote of the firehouse where paramedics would save her son’s life. “Please, if you do not know where the EMTs are located in your town, then look it up.”
The Danger Behind Liquid Nitrogen
Thankfully, they made it there in time for EMTs to begin an albuterol treatment and hook him up to an IV. By the time Johnny was loaded into the ambulance, he also needed a shot of epinephrine. He received a second breathing treatment and steroid on the way to Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine, Florida.
“What triggered this? The liquid nitrogen smoke from the Dragon’s Breath cereal,” McKenny wrote.
McKenny told Fox News that the kiosk has since posted an allergy and asthma warning. But according to Dr. Sunil Joshi of Family Allergy and Asthma Consultants in Jacksonville, even people who don’t have asthma could be affected by snacks that use liquid nitrogen.
“Even if you don’t have asthma it can be very, very inflammatory or irritating to the airway and your esophagus and your stomach, all of that,” Dr. Joshi told CBS47.
He also added that nitrogen can cause burns if it comes into contact with the skin.
What Is Dragon’s Breath?
The Dragon’s Breath treat has been popping up at state fairs, street festivals and malls around the country and, in October 2017, another child in Florida suffered a chemical burn from the novelty treat she ate at the Pensacola Interstate Fair. The incidents have prompted warnings from government health agencies and have also caused some establishments to ban the sale of the treats, which also go by the names nitro puffs, dragon nitro puff, Heaven’s Breath, dragon balls and snowballs.
In addition to warning parents about the dangers of the snack, McKenny also encouraged parents of children with asthma to keep their inhaler with them at all times, even if they think they won’t need it. She concluded her post by saying that her son is home now and will make a full recovery with the help of steroid treatment and the use of his nebulizer as needed.
Finally, she took the opportunity to thank the first responders at the fire station who administered life-saving treatment for her son, writing, “Finally, THANK YOU to the amazing heroes at the St. Johns County Fire Rescue station #12. The men there saved Johnny’s life. I am eternally grateful.”
Have you ever tried these liquid nitrogen-coated snacks?