Most people these days seem to have an allergy to at least one substance in their immediate environment, it could either be an environmental allergy like hay fever or a more personal allergy like lanolin, a substance found in most toiletry products, which causes body wide irritating and uncomfortable and unsightly rashes, and the ultimately more dangerous allergy like peanuts and all other nuts. Either way these irritants affect our bodies in a number of ways.
What Exactly is an Allergy?
An allergic response is caused by the body’s immune system going into overdrive to try and eliminate or process a substance absorbed by body; this hyper sensitivity to some substances can be fatal if not correctly and promptly treated. Children can present with symptoms at any time, as can adults as some allergies, like an allergy to pollen are not experienced consistently from childhood. Some allergies in children, like food allergies however tend to present themselves in childhood, usually before the child reaches 4 years of age, as this is the time they are being presented with the most diverse range of new foods. The most common food allergies in children are to:
- Citrus Fruits
Allergy or Intolerance
There is a very real difference between food allergies and food intolerance (e.g. lactose intolerance), and care should be taken not to misdiagnose the symptoms, as intolerance has a lifetime of medical implications. An intolerance to a foodstuff means that your body cannot process it at all and it will pass through your system without having had the vitamins, minerals and nutrients removed from it, meaning overtime your body lacks elements essential for good health and the continued intake of the specific food will cause intestinal damage and other symptoms to occur. With food allergies the goodness of the food can still be absorbed by the body; however the body goes into overdrive producing excessive levels of histamine to try and deal with it, which results in the all too familiar allergy symptoms.
Food Allergy Symptoms
Symptoms of food allergies in children will vary from child to child, but one or all of the following may be present.
- Skin Rash – It doesn’t always have to be itchy.
- Eczema – Any existing patches may increase in severity.
- Excessive mucus in the nose and throat
- Asthma like symptoms
- Itchy, swollen or irritated eyes
What To Do if You are Concerned Your Child May Have a Food Allergy?
- Do not limit or restrict their diet without first consulting your doctor.
- Monitor the frequency and color/consistency of their bowel movements.
- Await a confirmed diagnosis before changing their diet.
Treatment for Children with Food Allergies
The main method of treating a food allergy, especially if the symptoms are severe is to eliminate all traces of the offending food from the diet, after which all of the children’s food allergy symptoms will cease. Antihistamines may be prescribed to deal with minor symptoms like itchy skin rashes and excess mucus production and will be an efficient source of children’s food allergy relief. In severe cases where risk of contamination by an offending food can lead to anaphylactic shock patients may be issued with a single shot epi-pen which contains a dose of adrenalin.