Having an allergy to a particular food or group of foods can either be a minor annoyance or a life-threatening matter. The unfortunate issue with children’s food allergies is that they are hardly ever realized until an allergic reaction has occurred. This can be an alarming situation for parents who do not know what is happening when their child eats something that they are unwittingly allergic to.
It can be easy to keep children away from the foods that they have allergies to, but oftentimes those same food products are merely ingredients in other foods. Eating foods that contain even those food byproducts can also cause the same reaction.
Children’s food allergies, as opposed to food sensitivities, occur in the immune system. A true allergy to food results in a violent, life-threatening reaction caused by the immune system attacking the offending protein as it enters the body and bloodstream.
The immune system produces an antibody called IgE, which seeks out and bonds with the protein of the food that the child is allergic to. The build up of IgE proteins in the blood stream releases a torrent of chemicals that can cause itching, swelling, vomiting, fever, difficulty breathing, and many other symptoms, and can eventually lead to the systems of the body shutting down.
Common Children’s Food Allergies
Most children’s food allergies appear before a child reaches three years of life. If, however, a child is never exposed to a certain food that they have an allergy to in the toddler years, they might show an allergic reaction later in life. Most common allergens include wheat, milk, nuts, soy, and eggs. In fact, those foods incorporate over ninety percent of the allergies children face.
Symptoms of Children’s Food Allergies
To be a true food allergy the reaction must occur immediately after eating the offending food. Reactions that occur more than two hours after eating a food are not symptoms of food allergies. They may be sensitivities to the food or an allergic reaction to something else. Also, allergies will occur every single time the child eats the food.
Many allergies are outgrown if the child successfully avoids the food in their preschool years. Nut allergies and seafood allergies do tend to follow the child into adulthood.
Although some food allergies cause problems for a lifetime, many of them can be outgrown. If you are concerned that your child may have a food allergy, it is crucial to have them screened through the use of an allergy skin test. This will eliminate any doubt in your mind about whether there is allergy present.
Children’s Food Allergies Diet
Once diagnosed, inform all caretakers, family, and friends about the allergy, and teach your child to ask what is in the foods that they are offered. The best way to deal with children’s food allergies is to completely avoid the foods that cause the reaction.
It is not practical or realistic to try to shield a child from harmful foods all the time. Although you might be able to give your child only those foods that they are not allergic to, there is always the potential that they will eat an offending product when you are not around.
Be certain that you and your child’s caregivers always have access to medicine that will neutralize their allergic reaction. In most cases, this will be a special medical tool that administers epinephrine, otherwise known as adrenaline. Afterward, it is vital for your child to receive quick medical attention.