Your child has a visceral reaction every time a green vegetable is on the dinner menu; he may complain that broccoli makes him sick or Brussel sprouts hurt his teeth. Nice try, you say! You know better. But what about a real food allergy? Outside of the feigned stomach pains and spitting food into a napkin, there are real indicators that your child has a food allergy. Here is how you can recognize food allergies in your child, as well as the difference between a food allergy vs. intolerance.
When the immune system is exposed to a certain food or ingredient that triggers a protective response, it is highly likely it is a food allergy. Food allergies can occur whether the suspect food or ingredient is ingested, or if the child is exposed to the ingredient via inhalation or touch. This is not to be confused with a food intolerance, which may cause a gastrointestinal response. In many cases, allergic reactions can be serious and even cause life-threatening anaphylaxis.
What Symptoms Do Food Allergies Cause?
True food allergies can cause symptoms that range from mild to potentially life-threatening. If your child or a child in your care shows any of the following signs, it is possible the child’s immune system has been triggered by allergens. Your child may have been exposed to a food allergen if he is experiencing any one or more of the following
- Swelling of the mouth or lips
- Complaints of an itchy feeling in the mouth
- Diarrhea, vomiting
- Complaints of abdominal (stomach) cramps or pain
- Trouble breathing
- Child saying that the throat or windpipe feels tight
- Sudden drop in blood pressure
While each child may be allergic to particular items, there are eight foods which usually are most suspect with regard to food allergies: eggs, fish, milk, tree nuts, ground nuts, soy, shellfish and wheat.
Food intolerance and immune disorders
Food intolerance is a less serious condition than a food allergy. The primary difference between food intolerance and food allergy is that an intolerance to food does not affect the immune system; it is usually gastrointestinal in nature. One of the most common intolerances is for dairy products, which often results in diarrhea or cramping. Likewise, conditions like celiac disease – which is an intolerance to wheat products – is not an allergy but rather an autoimmune disorder that may share similar symptoms to a food allergy, but affects the body differently. Testing by an allergist or pediatrician is the best way to know for sure if your child’ symptoms is an allergy or intolerance.
What to Do If You Recognize an Allergic Reaction
If your child is experiencing an allergic reaction or symptoms that you believe could be an allergy, get to an emergency room, or call 911 right away – especially if the child has trouble breathing. If your child has been diagnosed with a food allergy, ensure an epi-pen is always available. Advise your school, daycare providers, family members and activity leaders to keep an eye out for symptoms and respect your child’s allergy by not offering food that could trigger symptoms. Understand the difference between food allergy and intolerance and develop strategies, communications plans, and diet as necessary.
Pediatric Urgent Care in San Antonio
In San Antonio, Tots ‘N’ Teens Pediatric Urgent Care helps parents avoid hectic emergency rooms, but also sees children for routine illnesses and physicals. For those many times you need to see a doctor right away, but it isn’t a life-threatening emergency, we are here to help. Plus, Tots ‘N’ Teens board-certified pediatricians have extensive experience in diagnosing food allergies and other food related disorders, including food intolerance. For your convenience, you can Check-in online before you come in, or call 210-267-5411.