When a child is allergic to food; the food comes to her/him like an invader first attacking the immune system. In some cases, the body will automatically make an antibody called IgE, which is a protein that detects the food causing the allergy and releases substances such as histamine to fight the allergy. Thereby, you can see the allergy symptoms; the intensity varies with children from mild to severe.
The symptoms of food allergies can show up within few minutes or after 2-3 hours; you will see swelling like hives, breathing trouble or other bodily discomforts. Some also experience eczema, vomiting or diarrhoea. Please note that babies and toddlers can have food allergies even if they consumed the same food before without any problem. Majority of food allergies in children are due to these foods – soy, eggs, wheat, milk, tree nuts, peanuts, fish (especially tuna, cod and salmon), crab, shrimp, lobsters etc.
Symptoms of Food Allergy in Children –
- The flushy and swelled up face, red itchy rash round the lips, hives, red tongue and eyes.
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, itchy throat, runny and blocked nose
- Wheezing, chest congestion, asthma attack, sudden drop in blood pressure, collapse
- Anaphylaxis and coma if the reaction is severe
The First Step when you Understand your Child has Food Allergy –
Of course talk to your doctor! You will be asked to maintain a diary for your child’s regular food intake so that you can u can identify the cause or the food that is creating the problem. He might further suggest you to consult an allergist. The diagnosing tests for food allergies in children are a blood test, and ‘skin prick’ test – both are effective in confirming which food is causing the allergy. Then you will have to visit a dietician who will exclude all the allergy foods from the child’s diet and include the essential nutritional substitutes.
How to Deal with a Child Having Food Allergy?
Avoid the Food
The first step is to avoid the problem food! It does affect the diet of the whole family but the child should be specifically given all the needed nutrition keeping away the allergy food.
Be Stocked with Medicine
Carry anti-histamines and adrenaline injections everywhere when you take the child along and learn about the risk of anaphylaxis even if your child has mild allergies till now.
Regular Doctor Visit
Go for a regular visit to the doctor as food allergy is a chronic condition and might take years to subside. Asthma, eczema and hay fever are common complications that might happen; thus keep all medicines ready in hand.
Dietician’s Help Needed
Instead of planning out the diet yourself; visit the dietician once in every 6 months to get the right diet chart for the child. He / she should not miss out the essential nutrients as this would be the age of growth and development. The dietician might also help to bring your family’s diet chart in a normal and acceptable phase.