Food Allergy In Children – Causes, Symptoms And Treatments

food allergy in children causes, symptoms and treatments

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Your cute little darling wants something special and ‘sweet,’ and before you know it, you’re in the kitchen whipping up an elaborate treat for him. Suddenly, one fine day, after a lunch of peanut noodles, you find him covered in rashes and sneezing and wheezing uncontrollably!

Sounds scary? Food allergies are very real, and with increased pollution in air and food, they are affecting more and more kids today. This makes it even more important for you to understand the basics of food allergies- the causes, signs and symptoms, and simple ways to handle them better. Let’s take a closer look at this condition.

Food Allergy In Children

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History Of Food Allergies In Kids:

In the last 40 years, the world has observed a dramatic increase in the number of allergic diseases such as eczema and fever, and more kids are affected by food allergies today. The term means, your kid’s body may develop certain aggressive reactions in response to

a particular food, which is termed as a food allergy.

Contrary to the popular belief, food allergies are completely different from food intolerances. One may have diarrhea from eating too much nuts, but one can even die from a nut allergy, where even a single nut can do the harm. In short, food allergies are much more serious and may cause certain complications if left untreated.

Causes Of Food Allergies In Children:

Food allergies have a simple logic behind their occurrence. In normal conditions, your immune system reacts to a particular foreign body that it considers harmful, and starts a reaction in response, causing the production of antibodies to fight off the substance. However, in those suffering from food allergies, the immune system makes a mistake and considers the food itself to be harmful agent, which causes the sudden reaction.

Food allergies often tend to be misdiagnosed, and may also turn worse as a result. A detailed history of the patient’s diet is usually enough to diagnose a food allergy.

Most Common Food Allergens:

It has been found that children are more likely to show development of signs and symptoms associated with food allergies in the first and second year of life. The most common food allergies include:

  • Seafood, particularly shrimp
  • Eggs
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Milk, particularly cow’s milk
  • Peanuts and other nuts

[ Read: Soy Allergy ]

Signs And Symptoms:

Despite many trigger food allergens; there are certain common signs and symptoms associated with a food allergy. During an allergic reaction, the individual’s immune system causes the production of certain chemicals including histamine, which affects the individual’s eyes, nose, skin, respiratory system and the digestive system.

Some of the common symptoms of food allergies in children are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Wheezing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Tightening of the throat
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy skin reactions
  • Hives
  • Tingling in the tongue or lips

Certain severe symptoms may require immediate medical attention. A sudden drop in blood pressure that leads to shock, dizziness, confusion, tightness of the chest, swelling of the throat which causes airway restriction, noisy breathing, loss of consciousness and collapse are certain examples.

Allergies to milk and soy may also cause development of symptoms similar to colic including the presence of blood in the stool.

Treatment Options:

Proper diagnosis and treatment is essential when it comes to food allergies, especially in children.

Conditions such as histamine toxicity, lactase deficiency, food poisoning and intolerance to food additives have signs and symptoms similar to that of food allergies. Often, many other health conditions have certain signs and symptoms that are very similar to that of food allergies, which makes proper diagnosis a difficult task.

[ Read: How To Read Nutrition Facts Label ]

Allergy Shots:

Just like vaccines for polio and other deadly diseases, scientists are now developing allergy shots that could help prevent allergies in kids. This immunotherapy treatment is particularly new; it involves the use of trigger substances (such as peanut extracts for an individual affected by peanut allergies) in very small amounts to be injected into the individual’s body so that the patient is de-sensitized to the allergy. This is an option that can be explored in the future very soon.

What If Your Kid Shows Allergy Symptoms?

While most of the time, detection of food allergies is pretty easy. If your kid shows allergy symptoms immediately after eating allergens like peanuts and seafood, it’s obvious who the culprit is!

  • If your kid shows symptoms, Rush to the doctor immediately, this helps prevent worsening of the condition.
  • Once the diagnosis is complete, you will need to visit a food allergy specialist to sort out the treatments. The specialist will probably ask you about your past reactions and experiences and then determine a treatment option for you.
  • While there is no special medication as such when it comes to food allergies, and most of the times, these reactions tend to dull over the time, and completely go away as the kid turns into an adult; some others may last for the entire life.

Avoiding Food Allergens:

One of the best ways to tackle food allergies is to avoid the trigger foods themselves. It is often believed that food allergies are hereditary, which is why, if anyone from your family is affected by an allergy to a particular food, your kid is more likely to have it.

  • Educate yourself about allergens and make sure you are always vigilant. Train your kid to be vigilant too.
  • Make it a point to read food labels before purchasing anything that’s packaged or processed.
  • Have a talk with your doctor and understand the organizations that offer safe foods for individuals with food allergies.
  • Your doctor may prescribe antihistamines and other medications to handle your kid’s food allergy. Sometimes, inhalers may also be suggested to help improve breathing problems.
  • Lastly, if your baby is very small and you’re still breastfeeding him, you may need to avoid consuming the food allergen yourself to minimize the risk of passing it on to your kid, which could develop the allergic reaction.

It is indeed not easy to have an allergic child at home, but with proper preparation and care, you can certainly manage the situation. All the best!

Do share your thoughts on food allergies in the section below.

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