It was every mother's worst nightmare come true.
Julie Bowen recently shared the terrifying story of her toddler's life-threatening allergic reaction, which was brought on by peanut butter. The "Modern Family" star's son Oliver, now 5, was only 2 years old when he landed in the hospital after going into anaphylactic shock following a bee sting.
"He was eating peanut butter and he was stung by a bee simultaneously. We're not exactly sure what the trigger was, but he went into anaphylactic shock," Bowen tells the Los Angeles Times of the scary situation. "His entire face swelled up, his eye swelled shut and his lips became giant. My husband [Scott Phillips] sent me a picture of it, and I immediately panicked."
In the emergency room, Oliver was treated with epinephrine (an EpiPen) and made a full recovery -- but his accident haunts Bowen and Phillips -- a a real-estate investor and software developer -- to this day. That is why Bowen became an activist in educating the public about the severity of kids' allergies.
"It was so scary," Bowen tells the Los Angeles Times. "I don't want other families to go through that. Our son's reaction to his allergy was very dramatic ... There's this wave of kids who have food allergies. It's a big deal; it's a reality."
Bowen, 42, has two other kids, 3-year-old twin boys John and Gustav, but luckily, they don't appear to be allergic to anything they've been introduced to thus far. Still, in case of an emergency, all three of her sons know how to treat a bad reaction.
"Kids are surprisingly able to understand the issue and be part of the solution," Bowen says. "[Oliver is] young, but he's very aware of it and doesn't think it makes him weird or strange, because it doesn't."
"Parents need to get familiar with the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis," she adds, "to be vigilant and aware and know the triggers."