Health & Wellness Child Developement
Understanding food allergies and their signs and symptoms
Understanding your child’s food allergies
It is exciting for all parents when they reach the first milestone and transition from just breastfeeding to introducing a variety of foods to their infant’s diet. However, every parent is especially concerned about the food allergies. What is a food allergy? What causes a food allergy? How to prevent allergies? To help you understand your child’s food allergies, it is important to know what are the symptoms and causes of food allergies to be able to prevent allergic reactions. Therefore, when you are gradually introducing one new food at a time, it is useful to keep in mind the common signs and symptoms of food allergies.
What is a food allergy?
The immune system fights off infections and other dangers in humans and keeps us healthy. When your child’s body shows a severe immune reaction to food within minutes or few hours after eating food, which may cause severe reactions like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, stomach cramps, trouble breathing or any other severe symptoms, it may be the result of a food allergy. Food allergies are serious and potentially life-threatening which causes a reaction after eating even a tiny amount of the allergy-causing food.
How is food intolerance different from food allergies?
Food allergy in contrast to food intolerance is a severe allergic reaction to certain categories of foods or any food in particular which affects the immune system of the baby. Even though some signs and symptoms may be common to that of food intolerance, the allergic reactions caused by food allergies could potentially be life-threatening and cause severe medical conditions. Food intolerance also known as food hypersensitivity, on the other hand, is the inability for the body to digest a particular food (indigestion) and does not involve the immune system response.
What are the common foods that cause allergies in children?
When the child’s immune system overreacts to a particular food after perceiving it as a “threat” to the child’s health, it starts sending out immunoglobulin E antibodies (IgE), which triggers a reaction and releases histamines and other chemicals that produce the signs and symptoms of a food allergy reaction.
Most children grow out of their allergies after a certain age, but some allergies may remain life-long. Most allergies are caused by the following foods:
- Tree nuts
When do food allergies occur?
Your child might start showing symptoms of allergies within minutes after eating the food. However, you may not see some of these symptoms immediately after feeding your child. In general, these allergic symptoms may begin within a few hours or even days after eating the food they are allergic to. It is best to observe your baby’s reaction closely after introducing a new food.
What are the signs and symptoms of food allergies in children?
Common Symptoms are:
- Hives or welts, worsening eczema
- Watery stools
- Flushed skin or rash
- Swollen eyes, tongue, face, mouth or lips
- Severe coughing or wheezing
Rare but serious symptoms include:
- Fainting or loss of consciousness
- Difficulty breathing
According to the latest guidelines from AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) there is no conclusive evidence that early or delayed introduction to certain foods will prevent food allergy. If your baby displays any of the above mentioned signs and symptoms, reach out to your pediatrician immediately.
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