As much as 10% of the planet’s children under 18 have a food allergy of some sort. Kids under 5 get the worst of it, with some symptoms so aggressive that they can be fatal. It’s no wonder that children with food allergies can be seriously harmed by side-effects, and the medical community is beginning to take notice, taking food allergens very seriously. The dangers associated in various reactions kids can experience is not a light matter.
The most prevalent food allergies include peanuts, wheat, soy and milk...peanuts considered to be the most common. Parents of kids with food allergies certainly try to keep these foods out of the house for fear of its reaction, but sometimes these foods can hang around, unbeknownst to anyone. You see, many factory-made foods may be without the allergen ingredient, but they may have been produced with the same equipment that those allergen foods are produced in. As a consequence, these food allergens can get into those foods that “should” be void of those food allergens.
Additionally, a lot of restaurants serve food with these food allergens, even though they may not advertise as such. Peanut oil and milk are common cooking ingredients restaurant chefs use, and even the slightest trace of these elements in food can cause terrific allergic reactions...sometimes as bad as if a child consciously ate the actual allergen food.
Outgrowing an Allergy
In many cases, food allergies will go away as children age. But this isn’t always the case. The opposite can happen where the allergy can get worse when a child grows. In fact, kids once allergic to ingesting the food can later experience reactions when they get older by merely touching the food. Allergic reactions can become incredibly harmful as kids age, leading to fatal conditions such as anaphylaxis. These children can also experience extreme reactions by inhaling the air the food is in, or even standing in close proximity to the food allergen as it is being cooked.
Education of food allergies is vital, and many people, especially parents of those children with food allergies, don’t have a good understanding of how deadly these foods can be for children. As mentioned, allergic reactions can be fatal because they can cause restricted airways and extremely low blood pressure. Additionally, children may begin to eat those foods that they were once allergic to in hopes that they no longer have the food allergy. It is strongly recommended that they not experiment with these once-diagnosed food allergies without proper allergy testing.
If your child suffers from food allergies, the child as well as those around that child should be aware of the allergy. In fact, it’s probably a pretty good idea to be versed on how to avoid these foods, know what kind of reactions they can cause and what to do about it should a reaction occur. People who interact with children, such as friends, daycare providers, other family members and teachers, should know what allergy a child has, and should have protocols in place as to what to do should a child experience a dangerous reaction. It’s also a good idea for the child to where a medical alert bracelet, indicating what that allergy is.
Food allergies are extremely dangerous, and in worse cases, can be fatal. Having an action plan and being informed is the best way to manage a child’s allergy. This action plan can help avoid a lot of suffering from a reaction, and in some cases, can save a child’s life.
If you observe mild symptoms, such as a rash or hives, contact your child’s doctor so he may identify the allergy and show you how to manage it. Managing a food allergy can include prescription medicine, eliminating the food from a child’s diet, or both. It’s important to know that just because a child’s initial allergic reaction to a food may be slight, it could worsen.
Severe symptoms are obviously more of an emergency, such as swollen eyes or trouble breathing. In these instances, call emergency response, give your child an antihistamine and observe the child for next half-hour, looking for serious symptoms such as drooling, swelling and wheezing. If these symptoms persist, rush the child to the hospital.
Understand that sometimes accidental exposures to food allergens can be unavoidable. If it happens, an EpiPen that your doctor prescribes will eliminate the effects of a reaction until you get that child medically treated.
David Novak is a international syndicated newspaper columnist, appearing in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV around the world. His byline has appeared in GQ, National Geographic, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Reader's Digest, USA Today, among others, and he has appeared on The Today Show, the CBS Morning Show and Paul Harvey Radio. David is a specialist at consumer technology, health and fitness, and he also owns a PR firm and a consulting company where he and his staff focus on these industries. He is a regular contributing editor for Healthline. For more information, visit http://contributors.