Food Allergies: What You Need to Know

When hearing the words “food allergy,” many can identify one person they know with the condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that’s in-part due to the steep rise of food allergies in recent years, an increase of 50 percent in prevalence among children alone in the past decade. On the other hand, identifying the symptoms along with what to do when you recognize those signs may not be as easy. In honor of Food Allergy Awareness Week, we’re here to walk you through everything you need to know about food allergies.

Basics

The American Academy of Pediatrics defines a food allergy as something that occurs when the body reacts against harmless proteins found in food. Eight foods account for 90% of food allergies: cow milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, soy, shellfish, and wheat. The remaining 10% are made up of more than 170 foods that have previously been reported to cause allergic reactions, which include but are not limited to vegetables, fruits, grains, and meats.

What to Look For

Allergic reactions to food can range from mild to severe. Knowing what signs to look for when it comes to spotting a food allergy in your child is essential. Here are the most common symptoms that occur as a result of the body’s immune system overreacting to food:

  • Hives
  • Itchy skin rash
  • Swelling
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Throat tightness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pale skin
  • Light-headedness
  • Loss of consciousness

What to Do

Should your child begin to display symptoms of anaphylaxis, a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction, epinephrine should be administered if it is available. In the event that it is not, it is recommended that you call 911. Should your child show signs of a mild to moderate food allergy reaction, Urgent Care for Children is equipped to provide care to your child.

Once identifying your child’s trigger foods, reading food labels is one of the best preventative measures you can take to prevent your child from having an allergic reaction. US law requires disclosure of common allergen ingredients including peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. If your child is allergic to a food that falls outside of the categories listed above, you will need to take a closer look at the ingredients list or contact the manufacturer. If you are uncertain of a particular food, it is best to avoid it.

The Future

While current research shows that food allergies cannot be prevented, it does show that many childhood food allergies can be outgrown. In fact, 80% to 90% of egg, milk, wheat, and soy allergies are outgrown by age five. Other food allergies, such as peanuts, tree nuts, and seafood, show lower chances of being outgrown, typically less than 1 in 5 children. Stay in close contact with your child’s pediatrician or allergist as they can guide you in creating the best plan to manage your child’s food allergy.

Resources

Urgent Care for Children is proud to offer reliable resources from the American Academy of Pediatrics for parents navigating their child’s food allergy. Learn more about common food allergies and ways to manage them by visiting the following links: