Saturday, November 2, 2013

Food Allergies: Knowledge is Power

It is very important to know the common symptoms of food allergies, not just for the safety of your own children, but for their friends as well--if little Johnny is allergic to peanuts and grabs a cookie off your counter, that could mean a surprise trip to the hospital, something better avoided by simple knowledge.

Some of the most common foods that cause allergies are peanuts, fish, wheat, soy, milk, and shellfish, Learning to recognize an allergic reaction will allow you to help your child get the proper medical care in a timely manner should a reaction occur.

Allergic food reactions will vary depending on the person, and can vary dramatically, ranging from a mild case of hives to so severe it causes problems breathing.

Food allergy reactions can affect any of the four following areas of the body, with skin reactions being the most common:
  • Skin: often you will see itchy, red bumps. These hives typically can be treated by a simple cream. Eczema, redness and swelling or itching are often common.
  • Gastrointestinal Tract: Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are all common.
  • Respiratory track: Runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath.
  • Cardiovascular system: this is by far the most dangerous, and can cause lightheadedness or fainting or worse
Once diagnosed with a food allergy, your child will need to avoid certain foods, and keep medication on hand in case of a breakout. You should teach your child to always ask about ingredients when trying new foods or going out to eat, especially for more severe allergic cases.

Additionally, create a food allergy emergency plan to give to their school, and any childcare providers or extracurricular activities.