Understanding the causes, signs, and emergency recommendations for children with food allergies can help caregivers provide a safe environment.
For those who have kids with food allergies, food is a risky experience. Their immune system labels a particular substance as dangerous and releases inordinate amounts of histamine. It can put children in danger, so they have to be careful with everything they serve on the table or keep in their home. It’s not just about avoiding peanuts or any other allergen. It’s about making the home a safe place for the kid, who can’t fully control their food choices without help from grownups.
What Is a Food Allergy?
An allergy occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly sees a harmless substance as dangerous. Even the smallest traces of the allergen can trigger an immune reaction.
These foods cause some of the most common food allergies in children:
- Milk (lactose
- Tree nuts
These foods are all high in protein.
How to Find Out If Your Child Has a Food Allergy
You should know that during the first exposure to allergens, the immune system may not react. Allergies can be developed. With nuts, for example, the second exposure may be more serious than the first one.
You’ll know that your child has an allergy when you notice the symptoms. You have to be attentive when introducing new foods, so you’ll know what caused the reaction. You may want to educate yourself on how to react in case of serious symptoms. Certain tests are also available to determine what allergies your child might have and the relative severity of each one.
Be Aware of Food Allergy Symptoms
These are the common symptoms that you’ll recognize if your child is allergic to any food:
- Trouble breathing is a very serious symptom. It occurs as a result of spasm and swelling in the airways.
- Swelling of the tongue and/or face (mouth, eyelids, throat, and lips). Sometimes the hands and feet may also swell.
- Hives, which you’ll notice by the itchy, red bumps on different areas of the skin. They may be visible on the neck, the face, or all over the body.
- Itchy throat and mouth may also occur as an allergic reaction.
- Stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea usually happen when the child is allergic to gluten or lactose.
- Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition that leads to shock. It can happen immediately after consuming the allergen, but it may also take up to two hours to develop. The condition involves several symptoms, including throat tightness, hives, swelling of the tongue and face, difficulty breathing, dizziness, lightheadedness, and unconsciousness. It’s a scary situation, but you have to stay level-headed and react ASAP!
Steps to Avoid Allergic Reactions
1. Always read the label
If you know that your child has a food allergy, read all labels carefully. Even traces of the allergen can be dangerous.
2. Know the ingredients
When you go to a restaurant, always ask about the ingredients in the meal you plan to order. Inform the waiter that your kid has an allergy, so they will be careful.
3. Educate the entire family
Keep your home free of allergens and educate everyone who spends time with your kid. The kid’s teacher and friends should know about the allergy, too.
4. Focus on safe foods
Prepare fun meals, so your kid won’t feel like they are missing out on something.
5. Stay updated to new research findings
Kids with Food Allergies is a great source of information. You’ll find safe recipes, but you can also get informed about the latest research findings.
6. Look for treatment
Antihistamines, decongestants, and corticosteroids are the most commonly used allergy treatments once the allergic reaction occurs. However, they are used only when allergens are ingested by mistake. The only long-term treatment is to avoid the foods that trigger reactions.
It’s Not Easy, But You Can Do This!
If your child has any kind of food allergy, you’ll have to be careful with the foods you prepare for them. You’ll patiently educate them about the foods they can eat and the ones that cause them harm. You’ll keep your home free of allergens that they can reach. If your child is allergic to peanuts, your entire family can live without them. Traces are more problematic; they can be found in common foods that we buy from the supermarket.
You’ll have to read labels and be prepared for action if anything unexpected occurs, but you can keep your child safe, healthy, and happy.
Robert Everett is a writer for EduBirdie.com. He loves researching topics related to childcare, family values, and social studies. Robert is an activist for several causes, hoping to make small contributions towards great improvements.