Food allergies seem to be getting more and more common in the UK. Currently, over 5% of children in the UK have a food allergy, according to the UK Food Standards Agency. It is estimated that as many as 21 million people are living with allergy in Europe. It is now the most common chronic disease in Europe. One in five patients with allergies lives every day with the fear of going into shock, having an attack or dying from a reaction.
Most food allergies show up in infants as they are weaned onto solid foods. Some of these allergies will usually clear up before adulthood. Detecting food allergies is critical to raising healthy children. Parents, teachers, watchers and caregivers need to watch out for signs.
Know the Triggers
Symptoms of food allergies happen when there’s an overreaction of the immune system. Trying to protect the body, it releases antibodies to attack the food as it should to any dangerous foreign substance like a virus.
If you suspect that your child has a food allergy, don’t try to test your theory at home. Visit a provider of public or private health care for children. They’ll help identify which type of food is causing the problem and develop a plan for treatment.
The 8 most popular food allergy triggers are:
1. Cow milk and related products
2. Chicken, eggs and related products
3. Peanuts and related products.
4. Tree nuts (such as walnuts and cashews) and related products.
5. Soy milk and related products.
6. Wheat and related products
7. Fish and related products
8. Shellfish (such as shrimp) and related products
Know the Symptoms
Children cannot always explain food allergy symptoms. Food allergies can affect their breathing, skin, heart and intestinal tract. Parents, teachers, watchers and caregivers may need to interpret a child’s feelings. They need to be able to recognise food allergy symptoms. They could be having an allergic reaction or attack if they say something like; “Something is stuck in my throat”, or “I feel dizzy”. This should happen less than an hour after eating food, or not at all.
Symptoms can include:
● Swelling of the lips, tongue and/or throat.
● Swelling of other parts of the body.
● Itching inside the mouth.
● Itching on other parts of the body.
● Trouble in breathing.
● Pain in the stomach.
● Dizziness or Fainting.
● Hives and Eczema
Know when to get help
If a child seems unable to breathe or swallow after eating, call 999 immediately. Some children have severe reactions to food called anaphylaxis. This should be treated as an emergency.
Symptoms can include:
● Loss of consciousness.
● Chest pain.
● Shortness of breath.
● Turning blue.
Children who suffer from anaphylaxis and the adults who care for them should always have an epinephrine or adrenaline auto-injector handy all the time. Guys and St Thomas Private Health Care is a recognised leader in providing paediatric allergy care in the UK. They offer consultations and testing for food, respiratory, gastro-intestinal, drug and venom allergy.
Not all bad reactions to foods are allergies. Some children are intolerant to some foods. The major difference between them is that intolerance only involves the digestive system. Food intolerance usually isn’t serious. A child who is intolerant to a type of food may be able to eat small portions of it. They both share a few symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach pain. This can sometimes make it difficult for parents to recognise food allergies.