Approximately 5.6 million children have food allergies, equalling (roughly) two in every classroom. Some of the most common allergens include milk, soy, wheat, peanuts, eggs, and shellfish. And 40% of children with food allergies have sensitivities to more than one food.
If your child shows symptoms of a food allergy, including rashes, digestive upset, or tingling and swelling in the lips, tongue, and mouth, you want to know the culprit right away. Identifying the specific allergens can be a daunting task, however, as food allergies don’t always show up immediately after ingestion of the offending food.
With proper guidance and understanding from a specialist like Dr. Margaret Lubega of First Pediatric Care Center in Gastonia, North Carolina, you can determine the cause of your child’s food allergies and help them manage symptoms.
Recognizing a food allergy
Signs and symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild reactions like hives or an itchy mouth to more severe responses such as difficulty breathing, swelling, or vomiting.
Keep a close eye on your child's reactions after they consume certain foods. Share this information with Dr. Lubega to help her narrow down possible allergens.
Getting help from a pediatrician
Your child's pediatrician is your most valuable ally in the journey to determine food allergies. Make an appointment at our office to discuss your concerns and provide a detailed account of your child's symptoms and suspected trigger foods.
Dr. Lubega will conduct a thorough evaluation, which includes a review of your child’s medical history, a physical exam, allergy testing, and further diagnostic tests as needed.
Testing for food allergens
Dr. Lubega orders various diagnostic tests to pinpoint the specific food allergens affecting your child. Skin prick tests involve introducing small amounts of allergens to the skin and monitoring for a reaction.
Blood tests, such as specific IgE tests, can measure the levels of antibodies in the blood associated with specific food allergies. In some cases, Dr. Lubega may recommend an oral food challenge, where your child consumes small amounts of the suspected allergen under medical supervision.
Keeping a food diary
Dr. Lubega may recommend you keep a food diary that documents your child’s daily food intake, including all ingredients used for specific recipes. This diary is also a place to note any symptoms experienced immediately after eating and in the days following consumption.
The food diary helps Dr. Lubega (and you) identify patterns and narrow down the list of suspect foods. Be sure to record details such as portion sizes, preparation methods, and any cross-contamination possibilities.
Determining your child's food allergies requires a collaborative effort between Dr. Lubega, parent, and child. Be sure to share your observations, concerns, and questions at your first visit and follow-up appointments.
Once you’ve identified the potential food allergen(s), be sure to engage your child in age-appropriate discussions about their symptoms and the importance of avoiding certain foods. Dr. Lubega can help you convey the importance of managing food allergies to your child.
Managing food allergies for the long term
Once your child's food allergies have been identified, Dr. Lubega provides comprehensive guidance on managing the allergies effectively. This may involve developing an allergen avoidance plan, providing resources for reading food labels, and educating you and your child on recognizing and responding to potential allergic reactions.
Dr. Lubega can also assist you in collaborating with schools, caregivers, and other family members to ensure your child's safety. If your child has a life-threatening food allergy, we provide you with epinephrine injectors to carry at all times. You’ll also learn how to use them to save your child if they go into anaphylactic shock.
If you’re concerned about your child’s reactions to certain foods, don’t hesitate to contact us at First Pediatric Care Center. We can offer the testing, deep analysis, and necessary care and support your child needs.
Call us today or use the online tool to schedule your visit.