Medical cases involving children are some of the most sensitive cases to handle. With relatively weaker bodies and immune systems, children are prone to several health complications. This is why it is advisable to vaccinate them on time. It is also common for kids to develop food allergies. As a parent, you should detect these issues, seek advice regarding the same, and keep your child away from allergies.
Having said that, child food allergy treatment can be a tough task. As most kids are not aware of the complications, they may end up consuming something they shouldn't have. It is impossible to monitor kids 24/7 and a single moment of decadence can have dire implications.
In this blog, we will look into the basics of food allergies in children and explore the ways in which you can prevent them.
Let's start with the most fundamental question what is a food allergy?
Skin Prick Tests
These are the most common diagnostic tests to detect food allergies in children. They allow doctors to measure the immunoglobin E antibodies in your child's body for specific allergens. These allergens can be anything, from animal dander and pollen to food items.
In this test, a small amount of allergen is placed on the child's skin and that area is gently pricked. If the patient is allergic, that area of the skin will develop a small bump (similar to a mosquito bite).
Food Challenge Tests
This is the simplest food allergy test that involves administering the suspected allergen through the child's mouth. If they do not develop any reaction, the dosage increases until the doctor sees a reaction. If the child's body does not react to the concerned allergen, the allergy is denied.
Helping Your Child Live With a Food Allergy
Living with a food allergy requires a child and their parents to be extra careful whenever there is food around. Here are some of the most important aspects you should consider while helping your kid live a healthy life with a food allergy:
Know The Ingredients
Whenever you take your child out for a meal, know all the ingredients added to the food your child eats. If you are not sure, ask the restaurant if the food you ordered contains any allergens for your child.
Ask The Chef Beforehand
Whether you are taking your child to a restaurant or to a social gathering, ask the chef beforehand about the way the food is cooked. Even if you are a regular customer of a restaurant, always confirm to be double sure that the food is free from allergens.
What Is A Food Allergy?
In simple words, food allergy is your body's abnormal response to specific food items. It is a reaction your body has to certain foods that may or may not be life-threatening. While food allergies do pose a risk to your immune system, it is important to distinguish them from food intolerance.
What Causes Food Allergy in Children?
A child needs to eat a specific food item first to develop an allergy to it. When they eat this item, their body gives a signal that it is dangerous. This signal is the manifestation of food allergy. Medical experts are still working on finding the precise reason why an allergy occurs in children.
While eating an allergic food item, the immune system of a kid releases immunoglobin E antibodies. They react with the food in the child's body, releasing chemicals like histamine. It is these chemicals that cause allergic reactions. Such reactions may include breathing difficulties, itching, abdominal pains, diarrhea, vomiting, and more. Once you find a pattern in your child eating specific food items and experiencing unfavorable reactions, you should consult your pediatrician right away.
Which Foods Cause The Most Allergies In Children?
Let us now have a look at a few common allergens causing food allergies in children:
- Wheat products
- Certain fruits and vegetables
- Certain spices
The longevity of food allergy depends on your child's body. Children may outgrow their allergies after growing up or keep them throughout their lives.
Major Symptoms of Food Allergies in Children
To manage food allergies the best way, it is important to identify the right symptoms at the right times. Keep an eye out for the following common food allergy symptoms in children:
- Stomach pain or cramps
- Hives (itchy and red rashes)
- Swollen face
- Swelling or itching on lips, mouth, or tongue
- Tightness in the throat
- Throat itching
- Breathing difficulties
- Wheezing sound while breathing
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Low blood pressure
If not controlled, many of these symptoms can lead to serious health complications. Approach a primary care physician for starters and consult a specialist (if needed) for comprehensive child food allergy treatment.
How Are Food Allergies Diagnosed In Children?
Once you notice the common symptoms of food allergy in your child, you should take it to a doctor who will diagnose the issue. They will physically examine your child and ask you about their medical history. The doctor will also ask you about your family's medical history to have a better context.
To reach a final conclusion, your doctor will conduct one or more diagnostic tests. Here are three of the most common tests used to diagnose food allergy in children:
Conducting blood tests allows doctors to measure the immunoglobin E in the child's blood to the allergens in it. Radioallergosorbent (RAST) is the most common blood test used to diagnose food allergies. While a doctor often recommends skin tests for diagnosis, a blood test may be recommended if they do not work.
Moreover, it is important to know that a positive blood test will not always imply that your kid has a food allergy. While assessing the reports, your doctor will match them with your child and family's health history to give you the right answers.
If your child suffers from a food allergy, it is advisable to skip family-style services or buffets unless you are 100% sure about the ingredients of all food items.
Avoid Fried Foods
Especially if you are taking your kid outside for a meal, it is advisable to avoid as many fried food items as possible. As the same oil may have been used for multiple food items, there is always a risk of encountering an allergen.
How to Prevent Food Allergies in Children?
While there is no way to prevent a food allergy from developing in the first place, you can always minimize the risk and take the right preventive measures. Here are a few ways in which you can manage food allergies in children:
It is advisable for mothers to only breastfeed their children until the age of four to six months, if possible. Breast milk gives the child enough nutrients and builds a strong immune system. This reduces the risk of developing food allergies.
Introducing Solid Foods the Right Way
As your child gets older, introduce solid food items to it the right way. Take one food item at a time and wait for a couple of weeks before feeding your kid a new one. This will not only help you detect potential allergies but also give your child's body time to get used to solid foods.
Introducing Diversity in Diet
It is always better to feed your child a variety of food items, making sure they get a balanced diet. This will give their body a variety of nutrients, reducing the risk of food allergies.
Do Not Feed Potential Allergens Too Soon
Now that we know potential allergens like fish, eggs, peanuts, and more, it is better to feed them to your child at a later stage. Allow your kid's body to develop strong immunity before introducing these food items into their diet.
Staying Away From Allergens during Pregnancy
Especially if you have a family history of food allergies, it is advisable to avoid potential allergens during pregnancy. This will prevent your child from coming into contact with any allergens until they build immunity.
Consulting the Right Healthcare Professionals
During pregnancy and after giving birth to your child, consult your family doctor or a specialized pediatrician to know more about food allergies in children. These professionals will give you the right tips to manage allergies and get your child diagnosed on time. Even if you notice a seemingly trivial food allergy symptom in your kid, approach a doctor right away.
Give Your Child Personalized Care At Home from Qualified Physicians with Docville
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