How to Know If Your Child Has a Food Allergy

How to Know If Your Child Has a Food Allergy

Peanuts, eggs, wheat, shellfish, and milk -- these are among the most common food allergens that exist. An allergy occurs when your immune system has an abnormal response to these normally healthy foods.

Determining whether your child has an allergy to one of these food ingredients, or different one altogether, can be tough, especially because they eat so many different combinations of food every day. Allergies have been reported to have occurred in response to more than 170 different foods. 

Pediatrician Margaret Lubega, MD, of First Pediatric Care Center in Gastonia, North Carolina is here to help. She has extensive experience diagnosing and managing children’s food allergies, so she can help you evaluate your child’s susceptibility, symptoms, and reactions. 

Food allergy signs

Here are some clues Dr. Lubega says to look for if you suspect a food allergy.

1. Your child has suspicious symptoms

Symptoms that commonly occur due to a food allergy include complaints of an itchy mouth or sore, itchy throat. Your child may also have an upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea in response to a food they’re allergic to. Some food allergies can cause hives, and in severe cases, trouble breathing or a change in a child’s voice. 

2. Symptoms show up relatively quickly

Symptoms of a food allergy usually appear within 30-60 minutes of consuming an offending food. It’s only in very rare cases that symptoms show up hours later.

3. Symptoms occur after eating a common food allergen

Eggs and milk are the most common food allergens in children. Peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish can also cause allergic reactions. Sesame is emerging as a possible common allergen, too, so it’s one to suspect if your child has symptoms of an allergy. Of course, allergies can occur in response to other foods as well, but these are the usual suspects.

4. Your child has other conditions

Children with food allergies are more likely to have other allergic conditions, like asthma or eczema. If your child has been diagnosed with one of these conditions, be extra aware of any unusual symptoms that seem to be related to foods. 

Managing food allergies

Mild allergies can be managed with over-the-counter antihistamines that help alleviate hives or uncomfortable mouth itching. But, if your child has other symptoms, it’s best to have them do everything possible to avoid the trigger food or ingredient. 

In many cases, your child may need to carry an epinephrine pen to treat anaphylactic shock if they do accidentally come in contact with a food trigger. If your child isn’t old enough to administer it themselves, you and any caregivers can be taught how to use this injectable medication. 

As your child gets older, they may outgrow their food allergies. This commonly happens with sensitivities to milk, wheat, eggs, and soy. As Dr. Lubega manages your child’s health, you can ask her to periodically test to see if allergies persist. But if your child is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, or shellfish, they’ll typically need to manage this condition for their entire life. 

If you’re concerned about your child’s diet, possible allergies to food, or other health concerns, First Pediatric Care Center is here to help. Call our office in Gastonia, North Carolina, or use the online tool to book your appointment. 

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