Food allergy happens when the body reacts against harmless proteins found in foods. The reaction usually happens shortly after a food is eaten. Food allergy reactions can vary from mild to severe. It is important for parents to recognize and know the usual symptoms about food allergies.
Symptoms of a Food Allergy
When the body’s immune system overreacts to certain foods, the following symptoms may occur:
- Skin problems
- Hives (red spots that look like mosquito bites)
- Itchy skin rashes (eczema, also called atopic dermatitis)
- Breathing problems
- Throat tightness
- Stomach symptom
- Circulation symptoms
- Pale skin
- Loss of consciousness
The reaction may be severe or even life threatening if several areas of the body are affected. This type of allergic reaction is known as anaphylaxis and requires immediate medical attention.
Not a Food Allergy
Food can cause many illnesses that are sometimes confused with food allergies. The following are not food allergies:
- Food poisoning – Can cause diarrhea or vomiting, but is usually caused by bacteria in spoiled food or undercooked food.
- Drug effects – Certain ingredients, such as caffeine in soda or candy, can make your child shaky or restless.
- Skin irritation – Can often be caused by acids found in such foods as orange juice or tomato products.
- Diarrhea – Can occur in small children from too much sugar, such as from fruit juices.
Some food-related illnesses are called intolerance, or a food sensitivity, rather than an allergy because the immune system is not causing the problem. Lactose intolerance is an example of a food intolerance that is often confused with a food allergy. Lactose intolerance is when a person has trouble digesting milk sugar, called lactose, leading to stomachaches, bloating, and loose stools. Sometimes reactions to the chemicals added to foods, such as dyes or preservatives, are mistaken for a food allergy. However, while some people may be sensitive to certain food additives, it is rare to be allergic to them.
Foods that can Cause Food Allergies
Any food could cause a food allergy, but most food allergies are caused by the following:
- Cow milk
- Nuts from trees (such as walnuts, pistachios, pecans, cashews)
- Fish (such as tuna, salmon, cod)
- Shellfish (such as shrimp, lobster)
Peanuts, nuts, and seafood are the most common causes of severe reactions. Allergies also occur to other foods such as meats, fruits, vegetables, grains, and seeds such as sesame. The good news is that food allergies are often outgrown during early childhood. It is estimated that 80% to 90% of egg, milk, wheat, and soy allergies go away by age 5 years. Some allergies are more persistent.
If you would like your child to undergo a food allergy test, call our friendly medical concierge at +65 6679 7867 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be on hand to assist you.