"Modern Family"'s Julie Bowen

Emmy-winning actress, Julie Bowen, of the hit TV comedy "Modern Family," starts a more serious role today: raising awareness about life-threatening childhood allergies.

The mother of three knows firsthand about potentially fatal allergic reactions.

When her oldest son was two years old, he developed anaphylaxis in reaction to a bee sting coupled with a bit of peanut butter.

It caused his face to immediately swell.

Other symptoms of anaphylaxis include chest pain; hives; breathing difficulties; tightening of the throat; lip and tongue swelling; nausea; dizziness and fainting.

She says her son was rushed to the hospital and immediately given an injection of epinephrine.

Bowen now is spearheading the nationwide awareness campaign with the help of the pharmaceutical company, Mylan, that makes an epinephrine-loaded delivery device called the EpiPen.

That was three years ago. Bowen says, "Today, we always carry epinephrine with us wherever we go."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than 9,000 children are hospitalized because of severe food allergies each year.