Food Allergies in Children
According to the CDC, nearly 10% of children around the world under 18 are affected by some sort of food allergy, and those children under 5 experience the worst of the symptoms and conditions. Food allergies in kids can cause serious and harmful problems. Doctors are beginning to take this pretty seriously, because they understand the danger involved in various reactions children might experience when a food allergy acts up.
Most Prevalent Food Allergies
While milk, wheat and soy are extremely common allergies among children, peanuts are considered the most prevalent. Many parents today perform their due diligence in keeping these foods out of the pantry because of a possible allergic reaction, but unfortunately, these foods can still appear in foods, whether a child or parent is aware of it or not. Many restaurants prepare food with these food allergens, even though they may claim that the product is not included in their dishes. The most common cooking ingredients are actually the ones mentioned above….milk, wheat and peanut oil. Cooking with these products can cause as devastating of an allergic reaction as eating the raw allergen food itself.
Children tend to outgrow their food allergies, but some don’t. Rather, they intensify with age, leading to more harmful conditions like anaphylaxis when food allergies are ingested or even touched. For these kids, eating the food allergen is not always the problem. Breathing the air the food is in, touching the food allergen or even getting near the food allergen as it is being prepared can cause an allergic reaction.
It is unfortunate that even today, many parents still don’t understand how dangerous and deadly these foods are to a child. Many fatalities among children have been reported as a result of food reactions because a child’s blood pressure can bottom-out or their air supply can be restricted due to food allergens. Also, parents may suspect that their child may have outgrown their allergy, and start feeding their child these foods again. Physicians strongly advise that extensive allergy testing be administered before they risk feeding children these foods that once caused the medical issues.
Everyone should be Informed
If your child suffers from any kind of food allergy, it is vital for everyone, including the child, be aware of the dangers, how to avoid the allergen, know what can happen if a food allergen is consumed and what to do about it as a subsequent medical action. Others who are around a child with severe food allergies, like other family members, friends, daycare providers and teachers, should be informed of the child’s food allergies as well. A medical alert bracelet is a good way to alert those around the child that he/she is allergic to a specific food or substance.
Food allergies are no fun for a child, and unfortunately, they are extremely common. Avoiding pre-packaged or restaurant foods that may contain the allergen are seriously advisable. Additionally, school lunchtime can be a problem for a child should other children share their food. Precautions need to be taken in this scenario as well..
What to Do
Food allergies are very dangerous and sometimes can be fatal. Being informed and having an action plan is critical for managing your child’s allergies. Doing so dramatically increases the odds of your child avoiding any sort of issues with food allergies.
If you see mild symptoms, such as hives or a rash, contact your pediatrician for further evaluation. Once your child’s specific allergies are identified, the doctor will give you an action plan for managing the allergies, such as medically dealing with the accidental exposure and subsequently eliminating the food from your child’s diet. Remember, just because a child’s initial allergic reaction to a food may be mild, it may get worse upon following exposures.
If the symptoms are severe, such as trouble breathing or swollen eyes, call 911. Additionally, give your child a dose of a liquid antihistamine, like Benadryl. Watch the child closely for the next 15 to 30 minutes for other serious symptoms such as wheezing, increased drooling and swelling of the lips and tongue. Also, realize that no matter how hard you try, accidental exposures can happen. An EpiPen (injectable epinephrine), which your doctor will prescribe if your child has had a previous severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis, will reverse the effects of the allergic reaction in the short-term.
David Novak is a international syndicated newspaper columnist, appearing in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV around the world. His byline has appeared in GQ, National Geographic, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, USA Today, among others, and he has appeared on The Today Show, the CBS Morning Show and Paul Harvey Radio. David is a specialist at consumer technology, health and fitness, and he also owns a PR firm and a consulting company where he and his staff focus on these industries. He is a regular contributing editor for Healthline. For more information, visit http://www.healthline.com/.