Most children have food allergies, and they happen to one in 13 children in the United States, which is a lot. Children can be allergic to any food, fish, soy, tree nuts, shellfish, but eggs, milk, peanuts, and wheat are the most typical meals that make kids sick. It’s essential to know about children’s food allergies, how to keep them from happening, and how to stop and treat them.
What Is a Food Allergy?
Overreacting to a particular protein in a certain food can cause the immune system to send out immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. This can cause allergies. The IgE antibodies connect to cells in the immune system that make chemicals called histamines, which cause an allergic reaction. When the food that causes an allergic reaction is eaten again, histamines cause the symptoms of an allergic reaction to start.
Why Do Children Get Food Allergies?
Investigators are still attempting to reason out what causes food allergies. However, it is understood that children must instead be told foods that can make them sick. When you eat a particular food, your body makes antibodies.
Being exposed to the food again causes the immune system to overdrive. The antibodies in the body recognize the food as it is in the body. A person’s genes may also play a role in their food allergies. In some families, having food allergies can make it more likely that a child will have a food allergy.
Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance
A lot of people think food intolerances and allergies are the same. Food intolerances don’t affect the immune system as allergies do. The term “intolerance” means that a person can’t break down a part of certain foods, like lactose intolerance. Another big difference is how much a person can eat before they feel bad.
For example, a lactose-intolerant child may drink a glass of milk and not feel any different. However, the better they consume, the more potential they have problems with their bodies. Children who have food allergies get sick even after just a tiny amount of exposure to a food allergen, and they should avoid it at all costs.
Symptoms of food intolerance
Food allergies can cause mild to life-threatening symptoms, while food intolerances can cause unpleasant but not fatal symptoms. Many people who have food allergies have gastrointestinal symptoms like burping and gas. These symptoms are the most common.
Most Kids Have Food Allergies to Some Foods
Allergens to food that children are most likely to have include:
Some children may get over specific food allergies (like milk, soy, and eggs), but other food allergies may stay with them all their lives (including peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, or fish).
Symptoms of food allergies
Asthma can cause a wide range of symptoms, and some can even kill you. Other people may also have different allergic reactions, and they may get worse or better over time. The ensuing are some of the signs of food allergies:
- Itching, hives, and rashes on the skin
- Pain in the stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Coughing or a hoarse voice
- When you can’t breathe well or gasp, you’re having trouble.
- There is a lot of swelling in the tongue and throat, lips, and mouth.
- Having trouble swallowing
- Dizzy or lightheaded:
- One of the most dangerous reactions to food is called anaphylaxis.
Babies may have a few different symptoms, such as:
- Being fussy or acting in a way that is similar to having colic
- Bloody stool movements
- Lack of growth
- Eczema is a rash on the skin that gets red and itchy.
Tests for allergies can be done if your child has these symptoms after eating a particular food.
People who work with children who have allergies to food
To find out if a child has food allergies, there are two main ways to do it:
- Skin prick tests are done with food extracts that are put on the skin of the lower arm or back to see if there is a reaction when they are there (called a wheal and flare).
- A blood test will look for antibodies in the blood that are linked to a particular food.
As well as any test results, allergies are diagnosed after a lot of thought about a child’s symptoms, their detailed health history, and a physical exam.
Tips for Managing and Preventing Food Allergies
Avoiding exposure to foods that cause allergies is the best way to keep them under control.
Some ways to keep yourself from getting exposed:
- Food labels: Food manufacturers in the United States must say if a food product has any of the eight most typical food allergens on the box. To ensure your child doesn’t have allergies, read food labels every day and teach them how to read them.
- Be wary of ready-made foods: When you eat food made outside of your home or at a restaurant, find out what ingredients are in the food and how the food was cooked or served.
- Working with a skilled person: Food allergies can make it hard for a child to eat certain foods. Registered dietitians can help a child make safe food substitutions and ensure their diet has enough nutrients to support healthy growth.
Having a plan in case of an emergency is also very important for people with terrible food allergies.
Preparing for food allergies can include things like:
- Keep an auto-injector with you at all times: Children who are at risk for anaphylaxis should always have an auto-injector with them at all times. This medicine can be given at the first sign of a severe allergic reaction. It is straightforward to use.
- Letting people know: Tell your family, friends, caregivers, and school staff about your child’s allergy so they can help them keep your child safe. They can help you avoid a food allergy and talk about what to do in an emergency.
- An essential item you can do for your child is to make sure they know the dangers of eating food with an allergy. When you give them tools, like a medical ID bracelet, you can help them tell other people that they have a food allergy.