4 Things Everybody Should Know about Food Allergies

4 Things Everybody Should Know about Food Allergies

Food allergies are increasingly common, especially among young children. An estimated five to eight percent of young children have food allergies, and about one in thirty teens suffer from food allergies. There is no known cure, and we aren’t certain of the cause. However, there is significant confusion in this area, while ignorance and mistakes can cause serious problems for all involved. Here are food things everybody should know about food allergies.

What a Food Allergic Reaction Looks Like

The symptoms of an allergic reaction can include hives, vomiting, diarrhea, swelling of the face or tongue, coughing, congestion or wheezing. Severe reactions include but are not limited to difficulty breathing, shock, hypotension and anaphylaxis. These severe reactions are rare, but they always require medical attention. Unfortunately, no two reactions are alike, so someone who has a mild reaction today may have a severe one tomorrow. In fact, it is possible that repeated exposure could make the reaction more severe until the food is eliminated from the diet.

Note that the vast majority of fatal food-induced anaphylaxis cases don’t cause rashes or swelling on the face. They simply start struggling to breathe as the issue progresses. Conversely, severe eczema in infants could be a sign of a food allergy or something else, so it should be evaluated by a doctor.

How to Prevent an Attack

One of the best ways to manage food allergies is to avoid the allergens altogether. This is because even small exposure to the allergen could cause a reaction. One strategy is to establish a food allergy reaction plan. If you have an allergic reaction, know how to treat it and, wherever possible, ensure that others around you know what to do, too.

What to Do During an Attack

You should know what to do during an allergy attack if you have food allergies or take care of someone who does. The symptoms of minor food allergic reactions can be treated with an antihistamine. If someone has an anaphylactic reaction, epinephrine must be given within sixty minutes of the attack, and the sooner the better.

If someone has had a reaction this bad, they should be taken to the emergency room, because some anaphylactic reactions return after the epinephrine is given. If someone has a severe drop in blood pressure, something that can cause them to pass out, call for an ambulance and give the person their emergency medication.

How to Reduce the Odds of Developing Allergy

You can reduce your child’s odds of developing a food allergy by not giving them solid food before they are six months old. Introduce foods one at a time to your child, looking for symptoms of a possible allergic reaction.

Parents may be tempted to avoid all allergenic food when feeding young children, but that’s a mistake. Instead, expose your children to the top allergenic foods before they are a year old. Give the child the food in small portions to minimize the potential impact if they do react. Don’t despair, because some children do grow out of food allergies, though this should be discussed with your doctor. Milk and egg allergies are those a child is most likely to outgrow, while peanut and tree allergies are the most likely to last a lifetime and progressively get worse.

Take the time to learn about food allergies, because if it doesn’t affect you, the odds are that it affects someone that you know. You cannot afford to make a mistake when a severe case arises.

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