Only 6% of all children have true food allergies. A true food allergy occurs if the body’s immune system overreacts when a certain food is eaten. The body considers the troublesome food an unwelcome intruder and reacts by producing a chemical (called histamine) that causes symptoms. Typical symptoms of food allergies are:
Most allergies subside as a child matures. However, this is not generally the case when a child is allergic to peanuts, nuts, or shellfish.
Food allergies can be dangerous. Although most food allergies are simply uncomfortable, some are dangerous.
If you suspect your child has food allergies you should consult your physician right away. He will test your child for allergies and give you a plan to follow in case your child unknowingly ingests something to which he is allergic.
How can you tell if the symptoms are serious?
If symptoms (e.g. itching, swelling of the throat, difficulty breathing, sweating, or vomiting) develop immediately after eating (usually within 2-30 minutes), they may be signs that a life threatening condition is occurring known as anaphylaxis (an allergic reaction that affects many organs in the body). These symptoms may be accompanied by a drop in blood pressure, unconsciousness, even death, unless treated promptly. It is important that you seek emergency treatment (e.g. call 911).
Treatment for anaphylaxis includes an injection of adrenaline. If your child is diagnosed with a food allergy, your physician will give you quick acting adrenaline for you to keep on hand to begin treating your child before you take her to the hospital.