The problem of food allergies in children is becoming increasingly important throughout the world, in the United States, every second child in the class suffers from a food allergy.
Sometimes symptoms can be mild, and in some cases, they are accompanied by severe effects, anyway, allergy cannot be ignored. As a parent, you should know how to determine food allergies and how to react as allergy may be a health hazard. So, I want to highlight some crucial moments and share tips, which worked well for my child.
What Does Food Allergy Mean?
Basically, allergy is the body’s reaction to a specific food or substances, which it has. Each time the allergen is ingested into the body, the organism releases antibodies, they provoke the immune system to release chemicals into the blood to fight the allergen. Consequently, these chemicals trigger allergy symptoms.
What Are Common Allergens?
The range of allergens develops every year and it comprises peanuts, milk, eggs, apples, peaches, fish, tree nuts, soy, buckwheat, shellfish. You should be very careful before giving them to the kid.
How to Understand that Your Child Suffers from Food Allergy?
Infants and toddlers with a genetic predisposition to allergies and those, who suffer from eczema, are likely to be food allergic.
Symptoms may be either immediate or delayed, of course, it is easier to handle instant symptoms as you may find products, to which a child has reacted. However, delayed symptoms are more serious and sometimes they may be fatal. In any case, it is difficult to reveal underlying problems alone, so if you suspect a food allergy, then see a doctor.
Immediate symptoms may be mild or severe, and they affect the gut, the skin, and the respiratory system. They are:
- Swelling around the mouth and on the face;
- A running or stuffy nose, watery eyes, sneezing;
- An itchy throat;
- Nausea and vomiting.
Severe immediate symptoms are life-threatening and they need urgent medical aid. They are:
- Chest tightness;
- Swelling of the throat and the tongue, which causes a cough and noisy breathing;
- Weak pulse and a sudden drop in blood pressure, which leads to shock;
- Pale skin;
- Dizziness, loss of consciousness and even coma.
Delayed signs appear after some time the food has been consumed, that is why it is not easy to detect them. Moreover, if the baby continues eating allergic foods, it may cause a permanent inflammation, which leads to chronic diseases (reflux, colic, poor growth) and the development of diabetes. So, your direct duty is to check the reaction to food and timely identify the allergen. Thus, delayed indications are:
- An effortless vomiting;
- Small bowel obstruction;
- Tummy pain;
- Frequent malaise.
Tips for Parents, Whose Children Suffer from Food Allergy
Once your child has been diagnosed with the food allergy, you should opt proper treatment, which involves both taking medications and home care. Only in a combination, they may give a positive result. So, I’ve tried to collect helpful tips, which really work. Try to stick to them.
- Always keep remedies on hand. You should know how to deal with allergy and take antihistamines with you. For instance, Benadryl may treat mild symptoms, while EpiPen (auto-injectable epinephrine medication) may treat signs of anaphylaxis. Note that they are not main drugs for the treatment, they just give you time to get to the hospital.
- Find a substitute to allergic foods as the child should get a full range of nutrients and vitamins.
- Repeat allergy tests regularly, as often children overgrow allergies.
- Keep everybody, who comes in contact with your kid regularly, informed about his food allergy. Doctors claim that symptoms may occur anywhere, so people must know how to react. For this, create together with an allergist an emergency action plan and give it to all caregivers. Besides, getting a medical bracelet will be a good idea.
- Always read labels before buying products. Your child’s life is at the risk, so always prepare meals by yourself as only you know the ingredients, don’t trust others when they say it’s safe. Check everything yourself.
- Teach your child not to accept food from others, he should ask permission from mom or dad.
- Educate your kid about his diagnosis, explain that he should not be shy to say that some products are “unsafe for him”. It might be challenging, but be patient.
- Avoid cross contamination – sanitize all cookware and flatware.
- Sometimes it happens when nobody can help, that is why teaching the kid about taking emergency medications on his own is a must.
On balance, food allergies have a huge impact on the lifestyle. Nevertheless, your necessary knowledge about them, timely consultations with doctors, correctly prescribed treatment, proper home care and the child’s awareness of the diagnosis will help to keep the influence of allergy at a manageable level.
Disclaimer: This is a guest post from Andrew Guerra.