Allergy SA – What you need to know about food allergies and your child

By Lukena Karkhanis, MD

No parent wants to see their child suffer. As a parent, one of the worst fears is that one’s child will or has developed a food allergy. Whether inherited or not, food allergies are more common in children, with research showing that about 40% of children with food allergies are usually allergic to multiple foods. If you suspect that your child might have food allergies, then you need to have them tested as soon as possible by scheduling an appointment. The earlier the detection the better in improving your child’s quality of life. The three most common food allergies are milk, egg, and peanut, in that order.

Symptoms of food allergies will vary from person to person, and according to which food was consumed. Some common symptoms include vomiting, upset stomach, hives, rashes, itching, and tingling lips. Severe life-threatening symptoms can sometimes occur, and if difficulty breathing, swelling of the lips, tongue or throat, or fainting is experienced, immediate medical attention needs to be sought.

Identifying food allergies can sometimes be complicated, especially if symptoms are relatively mild. Many parents experiment with elimination diets to identify specific food allergies, but this can sometimes be dangerous without a doctor’s guidance. Testing by a board-certified allergist is recommended because the process will be performed in the safety of a doctor’s office. Testing is done by obtaining blood samples or by performing skin testing. If you suspect your child has an allergy, schedule your appointment today. to see an allergist. Start a diary before the appointment and keep track of what symptoms your child experiences and what you think causes them.

Unfortunately, antihistamines like Benadryl won’t treat food allergies. When one or more food allergies have been confirmed, you need to ensure that your child avoids any contact with those particular foods. This will entail reading labels thoroughly, informing your child’s school of these specific restrictions, and teaching your child the importance of avoiding the offending foods.

Reading food labels can sometimes be confusing because food ingredients can be listed in other forms. For instance, “natural flavorings” may contain allergens, even though that particular allergen isn’t listed in the ingredients. However, more and more food manufacturers are placing allergy warnings on their labels that alert consumers that their products contain one or more common allergens. If you’re ever unsure whether or not a food contains one of your child’s allergens, it’s better to be safe and call the manufacturer.

Food allergies occur frequently in children, and if one or more allergies are identified in your child, then he or she can still live a high-quality life. As long as you ensure that the food allergens are strictly avoided at all times, your child should be healthy and happy. To make allergy avoidance even easier, manufacturers are introducing new and improved allergy-free products. This can make snacking and eating on-the-go easy, regardless of what your child might be allergic to. Our board-certified allergists are the best-qualified specialists to determine the sources of your child’s potential allergen. Schedule your appointment today.

Source: FARE Food Allergy Research & Education

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