By Dr Amit Gupta
Food allergies in children might be difficult to detect. An official diagnosis from a healthcare expert is the only way to know for sure if your child has a food allergy. However, there are several warning signs and symptoms of food allergies that you should be aware of.
Pickiness on your child’s part has nothing to do with some children’s unwillingness to eat specific foods. According to Food Allergy Research and Education, one out of every thirteen children has a food allergy. Approximately 40 percent of the youngsters had severe, life-threatening responses.
The major issue is that most parents are unaware that their children have food allergies until they try it for the first time and have a reaction. That’s why parents, teachers, babysitters, and everyone else who spends time with the child should be on the lookout for indicators of a food allergy.
What foods cause allergies in children?
When a child develops a food allergy, his or her immune system reacts inappropriately, creating antibodies to the food as if it were a virus or other deadly foreign invader. Allergy symptoms are caused by an immunological response.
Peanuts and tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios), cow’s milk, eggs, fish and shellfish (shrimp, lobster), soy, and wheat are the most common food allergy triggers in children.
Symptoms of food allergies
Your child’s breathing, digestive tract, heart, and skin can all be affected by a real food allergy. Within minutes to an hour after ingesting the meal, a kid with a food allergy will exhibit one or more of the following symptoms. Congestion, runny nose, cough, diarrhoea, dizziness, lightheadedness, itching around the mouth or ears, nausea, red, itchy bumps on the skin (hives), itchy rash (eczema), shortness of breath, trouble breathing, sneezing, stomach pain, strange taste in the mouth, swelling of the lips, tongue, and/or face, vomiting, or wheezing are some of the symptoms that can occur.
When should you seek emergency assistance?
In response to foods like peanuts or shellfish, some children have a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. If your kid has difficulty breathing or swallowing after consuming anything, call for immediate medical assistance.
Chest discomfort, disorientation, fainting, unconsciousness, shortness of breath, coughing, swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat, difficulty swallowing, turning blue, or a weak pulse are all symptoms of anaphylaxis.
In case of an allergic response, children with severe food allergies should have an epinephrine (adrenaline) auto-injector with them at all times. The injector should be learned by both the kid and those who care for them.
Food allergy vs food intolerance: How to tell the difference
Your child’s reaction to a certain meal does not always indicate that he or she has a food allergy. Certain foods cause food intolerance in certain children. The distinction is that a food allergy affects the immune system of the kid, whereas food intolerance affects the digestive system. Food intolerance is far more frequent than allergic reactions to foods.
Food allergies are more deadly than other allergies. In most cases, the youngster will have to completely avoid the problematic food. Food intolerance isn’t always as terrible as it appears. Small quantities of the chemical may be consumed by the youngster.
If your child has a food allergy, what should you do?
Consult your paediatrician or an allergist if you believe your kid has a food allergy. The doctor will be able to determine which food is causing the issue and assist you in developing a treatment plan. Antihistamines may be required to address your child’s symptoms.
Once you’ve determined that your child is allergic to anything, the best strategy to avoid a response is to avoid the offending food(s) and anything that may contain or have come into contact with them.
Having a child with a food allergy may be frightening and stressful. You’ll need to keep a close eye on their nutrition and be ready in case of an emergency. The good news is that many youngsters outgrow their food sensitivities over time. In fact, the sooner a kid’s initial reaction occurs, the more likely it is that the youngster will outgrow it.
(The writer is Senior Consultant Paediatrician & Neonatologist, Motherhood Hospital, Noida.)