Food Allergy Symptoms in Kids: What They Are and How to Recognize Them as a Parent

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

What Is a Food Allergy?

Food allergies are caused by an immune system response to a specific food. The immune system, which is the body’s defense mechanism, mistakes some proteins in the offending food as a threat. As a result, chemicals are released to fight the proteins. This causes a range of negative effects that usually affect a person’s breathing, digestive system, cardiovascular functioning, and skin.

What Are Food Allergies and How Are They Treated?︱National Jewish Health
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Coughing
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Hives
  • Eczema
  • Swollen lips, tongue, and cheeks
  • Stomach pain

The Most Common Allergies in Children

The following are the eight most common food allergies in children:

  1. Eggs
  2. Cow’s milk
  3. Fish
  4. Peanuts
  5. Shellfish
  6. Tree nuts
  7. Wheat
  8. Soy

Milk Allergies

Milk allergies are the most studied food allergy. A milk allergy is a reaction to the proteins in milk — whey or casein. It is different from lactose intolerance, which is a reaction to the fats in the milk. A child who has a milk allergy is also likely to be allergic to other foods, such as soy, peanuts, and eggs.

Milk Allergies Are The Most Studied Food Allergy. (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance

Food allergy and food intolerance are two different things. However, they can share the same symptoms, which makes it difficult for parents to differentiate between them. Food intolerance, which is much more common than an allergy, may be caused by several factors, including:

  • Lack of an enzyme needed to digest the food
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Sensitivity to an additive in the food
  • Psychological factors
  • Celiac disease
Food Allergy & Food Intolerance — What’s the Difference︱ safefoodTV

Egg Allergies

Egg allergies often occur in very young children. While many of them will grow out of the allergy by or around the age of 8, others will maintain their egg allergy for life. The allergy will relate to a protein in either the yolk or the white of the egg. As a result, the allergy will only relate to that part of the egg. So, a person who is allergic to a yolk protein will be able to eat egg whites with no problem.

Peanut Allergies

Peanut allergies are among the most common allergies in young children. Youngsters who have a peanut allergy are probably going to have it for life. A peanut allergy is also more likely to cause an anaphylactic reaction. This may include the inability to breathe or even cardiac arrest.

Peanut Allergies are Among The Most Common Allergies in Young Children. (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Food Allergy Testing

Parents don’t have to wait until their child has a negative reaction to a food to discover an allergy. Food allergy testing allows them to be proactive about diagnosing any allergies and cutting out foods from the child’s diet.

Skin Prick Test (Image Source: Shutterstock)
  • Skin prick test: A drop of the allergen is placed on a fingertip, then the first layer of skin is pricked. If the child is allergic to the food, itchiness and redness will develop within 10–15 minutes.
  • Specific IgE blood test: This test measures the levels of a specific IgE antibody directed to the allergen in the blood. It is not considered to be a very reliable form of allergy testing.
  • Physician-supervised oral food challenge: Here the child consumes gradually increasing amounts of a suspected food in the presence of an allergist. This is considered to be the most reliable form of food allergy testing in children but is also time-consuming, taking 4–8 hours to complete. As an alternative, you may wish to order an at-home food sensitivity test.

Treatment for Food Allergy

There is no medical treatment that will eliminate the symptoms of food allergies so that a child can eat that food. The best treatment is to ensure that the child stays away from the offending food. It is recommended that parents have their child’s food allergy tested and then remove the identified foods, as well as other foods within that food grouping.

Summary

Avoiding foods that cause allergic reactions in their kids is a real challenge for parents. It requires constant vigilance along with proactive measures such as having the child tested for allergies and removing the identified foods from the child’s diet. Doing so will give your child their best protection from the nasty, and potentially deadly, effects of a food allergy.

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