Food allergies arise when our immune system produces defenses in response to a protein in the diet, which is normally considered harmless. Food allergies are more common in people from families with cases of allergies, such as asthma, hay fever, or eczema.
If your child has a food allergy, it may have the following symptoms: itching in the nose or nose, throat, itchy, watery eyes, rash, and swelling usually occurring fairly quickly after eating. Food allergies often occur in small children. It is estimated that between six and eight percent of children have a food allergy.
What is my child most likely to be allergic?
Food allergies are most common in young children with milk, eggs, peanuts and walnuts.
- Milk: However, this should not be accompanied by a Milk intolerance. The early milk allergy has a good prognosis, it has mostly disappeared at the age of two years. “Real milk allergy” is relatively rare in larger children.
- Eggs: About two percent of children under three are allergic to eggs.
- Nuts: A little less than two percent of children are allergic to peanuts. Allergies to nuts generally occur more intensively.
What symptoms should I look for?
It should be fairly easy for you to determine if your child has an allergy. The symptoms are:
- Hetches around the mouth, nose and eyes of your child. This can spread to the whole body.
- Slight swelling of the lips, eyes and face.
- A dripping or blocked nose, sneezing, watery eyes.
- Itching on the mouth and palate, and an irritated neck.
- Dizziness, vomiting and diarrhea.
More severe reactions that cause wheezing or a drop in blood pressure may be life-threatening and are known as anaphylactic shock. Fortunately, such violent reactions are rare in small children. If you suspect that a child has a severe allergic reaction, you should immediately call a hospital.
If your child reacts quickly to an allergen, it is usually easy to detect it. However, delayed allergic reactions to food are becoming more and more frequent. The body of your child takes longer to react because different parts of his immune system are affected. Symptoms you should look for are:
- Neurodermatitis, which often occurs in small children with a milk allergy or wheat allergy.
Remember that all these symptoms are common in early childhood and an allergy is only a possible explanation.
How is a food allergy detected?
If you think your child is allergic to food, look for a pediatrician and ask him to refer to a specialist for allergology. Most of the established pediatricians in Germany are well acquainted with allergies. If you are unclear, consult the specialist or a special clinic.
Your child is the first to make a skin test. This procedure is very helpful, even in small babies can be diagnosed as allergies. Your doctor can also do blood tests. Always seek medical attention if you are concerned. Do not let yourself be tempted to buy commercial diagnostic sets, which are offered on the Internet, in the mail-order business or in the reform house.
If your child has a delayed allergic reaction to food, the allergen is likely to be detected by an exclusion procedure. This examination should be carried out by a specialist in allergology. He will monitor the symptoms of your child and slowly reintroduce the suspected allergen into the diet to determine if the symptoms recur. Always talk to your doctor or dietician before you take certain foods out of your child’s diet.
Will my child outgrow his food allergy?
It depends on what it is allergic to. Up to 90 per cent of the children will outgrow allergies to cow’s milk and eggs, while about 10 to 20 per cent of nut allergies will be overcome. Some children may develop other allergy-like or atopic conditions later in their lives, such as asthma or hay fever. Read our article about allergies for more information.
If your child has a food allergy, it is important that it is often examined by a specialist for allergies and that it is periodically tested to see if it has overcome its allergy.
What are food intolerances?
Small children sometimes develop intolerance to certain foods. This differs from an allergy because the immune system is not affected. These two terms are often confused. Your child has an intolerance when it is difficult to digest certain foods. It may have the following symptoms:
- stomach pain
The most common intolerance in babies is against milk or lactose intolerance. It usually occurs after stomach upset and may last for several weeks.
If you suspect that your child has a food intolerance, consult your pediatrician. Never try to diagnose yourself with your child as there are other intolerances that cause similar symptoms, such as celiac disease, a condition in which the intestine reacts to gluten in the cereal.
The food that causes problems for your child is identified in a similar way to an allergen that causes a delayed response. The most important is the medical history. A breath test may be helpful for lactose intolerance or fructose absorbency. This can usually only be a special gastrointestinal specialist (gastroenterologist). A diet can be prescribed in which the suspicious foods are initially omitted and then slowly added again in small amounts. This helps in determining which foods cause the problem.
Living with a food allergy
If a food allergy has been diagnosed with your child, always follow the advice of your doctor or dietician and avoid the foods that trigger the symptoms. Some children with mild allergies, such as eggs, may be able to tolerate food in the baked or boiled state, while other children with severe allergies will also have to avoid the smallest amounts.
Holidays, birthday parties, meals and excursions must be planned more carefully than before, but you will soon get used to the right food and drink for your child, and to teach others how to do it.
Always remember to take the medicine for your child on a trip. This may be a histamine or if your child is at risk of a severe reaction (anaphylaxis), an adrenaline syringe may also need to be provided.
Shopping for a special diet
Shopping for a special diet can also be challenging. But once you know all the products that are appropriate for your child, with the help of your doctor or your nutritional adviser, your diet can be varied, nutritious and tasty.
There are now in many supermarkets extra areas that have products without certain additives. Many stores have lists of their own products that were made without nuts, eggs or milk.
Reading labels on food packaging will now be a part of your daily life. They must be attentive, since the miscreants appear in food in a variety of ways. Sodium caseinate and dairy products are obtained, for example, from milk. Your nutritionist can give you a complete list of all the names you should avoid.