Around 6% of children in the United States have food allergies. Food allergies are abnormal immune responses caused by a certain type of food. Its symptoms often present within minutes to an hour of ingesting food. Allergies can range from mild discomfort to life-threatening, depending on their severity.
In children, food allergies are commonly caused by:
- Tree nuts
As a parent, it’s important to be vigilant when it comes to possible food allergies in your child. Proper diagnosis and prevention techniques can alleviate the stress and frustration of managing food allergies in children.
Diagnosis of Food Allergies in Children
Food allergies are often assessed through evaluating family history. If your child already has eczema and other types of allergies, their risk for food allergy is higher.
Some symptoms and signs of food allergies are itching all over or at one part of the body and swelling in the mouth, including the tongue, throat, and face. Your child may also experience nausea and vomiting, as well as breaking out in hives as part of their food allergic reaction.
It’s important to obtain an accurate diagnosis of your child’s allergies. Certain symptoms may indicate other conditions, so receiving a proper diagnosis from your healthcare provider can ensure that these symptoms are caused by a food allergy.
An allergist can perform diagnostic tests for food allergies, including a skin test or a radioallergosorbent blood test (RAST). During a skin test, your healthcare provider will prick the skin and apply a small amount of allergen at the site, and then measure your child’s reactions after some time. A RAST checks the levels of allergic antibodies in response to allergens present in the blood.
Management of Food Allergies in Children
Once you receive your healthcare provider’s diagnosis of your child’s food allergies, avoid the foods and similar food groups that may trigger an allergic reaction. You must discuss with your doctor if your child needs to take specific vitamins to make up for the food they need to avoid.
You should also be prepared for emergency treatment for allergic reactions in case of accidental ingestion. This is especially necessary for children with severe allergies that cause life-threatening symptoms, like difficulty breathing. Making sure to have epinephrine autoinjectors nearby can help you manage their food allergies in and out of the home.
Having your child wear a medical alert identification that indicates their food allergies can be helpful when you or an immediate family member is not with them when dining out.
Your healthcare provider may also recommend they take medications to help manage their food allergies. Some of them are:
- Antihistamines – reduce itching and congestion
- Corticosteroids – reduce swelling upon allergic reaction
- Epinephrine – immediately reverses the effects of a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis
Above all, it is essential to have clear and honest communication with your healthcare providers and immediate caregivers, such as nannies or relatives like aunts, uncles, and grandparents, on your child’s food allergies.
While some children outgrow their allergies, some manage their food allergies throughout their lives because of their severity. Your doctor may recommend you come back for another allergy reaction test after three to six months to check whether your child’s food allergies are short-term or not.
How to Prevent Food Allergies in Children
Seeing your child get a food allergic reaction can be scary, but there are many ways to prevent food allergies.
For infants, breastfeeding during the first six months may prevent milk allergy. Breastmilk is full of protein and antibodies that can guard your newborn from infections and developing food allergies.
Early introduction of allergenic food like peanuts and eggs has also been shown to have a preventive effect. However, avoid introducing allergenic food into your child’s diet such as cow’s milk, eggs, and wheat during your child’s first year of life. For more detailed instructions or guidelines about your child’s diet, discuss your concerns about food allergies with your healthcare provider or pediatrician.
Pediatric Allergist Near Me in Georgetown, Texas
Protecting your child from food allergies is manageable with the help of your support system and trusted healthcare providers.
At Georgetown ENT, we perform in-clinic allergy tests and evaluations to find out the root of allergic reactions. We also offer allergy therapies and treatments such as medications and immunotherapy (allergy shots or drops) to make sure your child stays protected from allergens. Our medical team can also guide you and your family on ways to avoid your child’s food allergy triggers.
If you have any concerns or questions about how to identify and manage food allergies in children, Georgetown ENT is here to help! Call our friendly staff today at (512) 869-0604. You may also schedule an appointment online through our appointment request form. You can also check out our available locations throughout Williamson County in central Texas to find out which is the nearest and most convenient office for you and your family.
We look forward to being your partner in protecting your child’s health!