Food Allergies In Children
No parent wants to see their child suffer. Since fatal and near-fatal food allergy reactions can occur at school or other places outside the home, parents of a child with food allergies need to make sure that their childs school has a written emergency action plan. The plan should provide instructions on preventing, recognizing and managing food allergies and should be available in the school and during activities such as sporting events and field trips. If your child has been prescribed an auto-injector, be sure that you and those responsible for supervising your child understand how to use it.
In November 2013, President Barack Obama signed into law the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act , which encourages states to adopt laws requiring schools to have epinephrine auto-injectors on hand. As of late 2014, dozens of states had passed laws that either require schools to have a supply of epinephrine auto-injectors for general use or allow school districts the option of providing a supply of epinephrine. Many of these laws are new, and it is uncertain how well they are being implemented. As a result, ACAAI still recommends that providers caring for food-allergic children in states with such laws maintain at least two units of epinephrine per allergic child attending the school.
Are Allergies Worse In Childhood Or Adulthood
Per the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and 2013 data, 28 million kids across the United States have allergies. As many as 50 million adults may get reactions to allergens as well.
While more adults have allergies in the United States than children, is there an age group that has it worse? Research that appeared in a 2012 article at MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Massachusetts suggests that adults may be the most at risk for intense, serious symptoms. Adult behaviors such as taking certain medications and drinking alcohol may increase risk for severe anaphylaxis. Exercise and having asthma can also increase reaction severity. Of course, young children who cannot communicate symptoms can also have severe reactions which go unnoticed and progress to dangerous levels.
A severe allergic reaction, which can be triggered by foods or venom , is called anaphylaxis. This is a life-threatening emergency condition in which the patient goes into shock, cannot breathe, and may have vomiting, nausea, and skin rashes. Anaphylaxis can occur instantaneously or sometimes minutes after eating an allergen or being stung. Epinephrine can control cases of anaphylaxis that are caught immediately. The longer the patient goes without treatment, the greater the likelihood that death can occur. For this reason patients with a history of severe anaphylaxis are encouraged to always have an in date epinephrine injector available.
Food Allergies Can Develop During Adulthood
Many of us associate food allergies with childhood, but a recent study reports that more than 48% of people with food allergies develop them as adults. Even more worrisome is the fact that more than 51% of adults with food allergies will at some point experience a severe reaction that requires medical care.
Because food allergies can develop suddenly, you need to take symptoms like facial swelling, hives, and dizziness seriously. This is especially true if those reactions occur when youre eating foods that commonly trigger allergies such as shellfish, milk, peanuts, and tree nuts. And if you suddenly have difficulty breathing or swallowing, dont wait go to the nearest emergency room and get help immediately.
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Tips To Avoid Foods That May Cause Allergies
To avoid foods to which you have an allergy, learn the terms used to describe these foods on food labels, for example:
- milk protein milk, non-fat milk solids, cheese, yoghurt, caseinates, whey, lactose
- lactose milk, lactose
- Nutrition Australia. Tel. 9650 5165
- ASCIA Guidelines for prevention of food anaphylactic reactions in schools, preschools and childcare centres, 2015 update, Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. More information here.
- Osborne NJ, Koplin JJ, Martin PE, et al 2011, Prevalence of challenge-proven IgE-mediated food allergy using population-based sampling and predetermined challenge criteria in infants, J Allergy Clin Immunol, vol. 127, no. 3, pp. 668-676. More information here.
- About food allergies, The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. More information here.
- Anaphylaxis, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Victorian Government. More information here.
- ASCIA Guidelines infant feeding and allergy prevention, 2016, Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. More information here.
- Allergens, Food Allergy Research and Education. More information here.
Is It Likely That My Dog Could Develop Other Food Allergies
Dogs that have developed an allergy to one particular food may develop other food-related allergies in the future. In addition, many dogs with food allergies have other allergies, such as atopy or flea allergy.
“Dogs that have developed an allergy to one particular food may develop other food-related allergies in the future.”
If you think your pet may have a food allergy, you should discuss this with your veterinarian, who can help your pet resume a healthier, itch-free life.
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What Gets Rid Of Allergies Faster
Some of the natural methods of dealing with allergies faster among older people include:
- Eating healthy
- Quick rinse off if youve been outside during pollen season
- Wearing a mask
- Rinsing your nose using a nasal rinse
- Install HEPA filters in your air conditioning system & vacuum
- Install air purifiers to improve indoor air quality
- Drink more water, non-alcoholic drinks, and juice
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle & boost your immunity
How Are Food Intolerances Diagnosed
Most food intolerances are found through trial and error to determine which food or foods cause symptoms. You may be asked to keep a food diary to record what you eat and when you get symptoms, and then look for common factors. For example, after charting what he eats every day for a month, a man finds that he had symptoms only on the days he ate cheese. This points the finger at cheese as a possible cause of his discomfort.
Another way to identify problem foods is an elimination diet. You begin by completely eliminating any suspect foods from your diet until you are symptom-free. You then begin to reintroduce the foods, one at a time. This can help you pinpoint which foods cause symptoms. Seek the advice of your health care provider or a registered dietitian before beginning an elimination diet to be sure your diet provides adequate nutrition.
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Food And Pollen: A Mistaken Identity
Some adult-onset food allergies arise from preexisting allergies to pollen, one of the most common environmental allergens. With the body already on high alert for pollen and anything resembling it, an overzealous immune system can become even more hypervigilant and mistake proteins in fruits and vegetables for pollen. This can cause a mild to moderate allergic reaction, which doctors refer to as oral allergy syndrome. It most commonly occurs as a misidentification of birch tree pollen, manifesting itself in allergic reactions to fresh fruits. Frustratingly, this allergy may not reveal itself until later in life.
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Prevention Of Food Allergies
The development of food allergies cannot be prevented, but can often bedelayed in infants by following these recommendations:
If possible, breastfeed your infant for the first six months.
Do not give solid foods until your child is 6 months of age or older.
Avoid cow’s milk, wheat, eggs, peanuts, and fish during your child’s first year of life.
Sometimes It Remains The Same
Pregnancy tends to change a lot about women, and it can even impact the physical reactions their bodies have to certain things. But that is not always the case. According to foodallergycanada.ca, there are times when women might not see any changes to their allergies at all when they are carrying a baby. Some women have had their symptoms to foods that they are allergic to remain the same while pregnant. This is something ladies should know if they have food allergies.
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Types Of Food Allergies
Food allergies are divided into 3 types, depending on symptoms and when they occur.
- IgE-mediated food allergy the most common type, triggered by the immune system producing an antibody called immunoglobulin E . Symptoms occur a few seconds or minutes after eating. There’s a greater risk of anaphylaxis with this type of allergy.
- non-IgE-mediated food allergy these allergic reactions aren’t caused by immunoglobulin E, but by other cells in the immune system. This type of allergy is often difficult to diagnose as symptoms take much longer to develop .
- mixed IgE and non-IgE-mediated food allergies some people may experience symptoms from both types.
Read more information about the symptoms of a food allergy.
Treating Food Allergy Or Intolerance
The easiest way to treat a food allergy or intolerance is to eliminate the offending food/s from the diet. Sometimes, the body can tolerate the food if it is avoided for a time, then reintroduced in small doses, particularly for food intolerances. Before you eliminate or reintroduce foods, seek advice from a specialist doctor and dietitian.
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Who Is More Likely To Develop Food Allergies Later In Life
Q. I know that food allergies can crop up later in life. Is that more likely to happen to people with other allergies or asthma, or is it just as likely to happen to someone with no health issues whatsoever?
Dr. Susan Waserman: Most food allergies start in childhood, but youre right, they can develop at any time in a persons life.
Factors that favor the development of food allergy in adults include sensitization to pollens and house dust mites, as well as occupational sensitization .
As well, adults with birch pollen allergy may develop oral allergy syndrome, which leads those affected to experience itchy mouth when they eat certain raw fruits and vegetables. This is the result of cross-reactivity between the food and the pollen.
A couple of interesting points on this topic:Ä¢ Those sensitized to house dust mites may end up with shrimp allergy because both contain the protein tropomyosin.Ä¢ Occupational sensitization is also associated with crab and pork allergies.
Dr. Susan Waserman is an allergist and Professor of Medicine in the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont.
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Lower Early Exposure Theory
Many children grow up in sterile environments nowadays, with lower exposure to healthy germs. In todays developed countries, the use of antibacterial products has increased significantly among us. Using sanitizers and such products kills good bacteria as well, which protect our bodies and give us immunity.
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Food Allergy Or Intolerance
A food allergy is an abnormal and overactive response from your immune system to something that it shouldnt react to.
When you eator sometimes even come into contact withthe offending ingredient, your immune system revs up production of antibodies: proteins that fight foreign substances. These indirectly trigger the production of histamines, which start what we recognize as an allergic reaction. This whole cascade happens quickly, usually within minutes.
Allergy symptoms can involve your skin, respiratory system, and gastrointestinal system. They may be mildly uncomfortable or downright dangerous, and can vary in severity and type each time you come into contact with the food.
Swelling, itching, hives, shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, lightheadedness, and/or vomiting within a few minutes to a couple of hours of eating a food may signal an allergy. If you have such symptoms after a meal, see your physician or an allergist, Ogbogu saysafter seeking emergency care, if needed.
This is especially crucial if you have a reaction after eating shellfish. Its rare to develop an anaphylactic allergy to most foods as an adult, but shellfish is the exception, says Manish Ramesh, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Food Allergy Center at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and Scarsdale, N.Y.
Among adults, shellfish is the most prevalent food allergy, but milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts are also common offenders.
Changes In Body Chemistry As We Age Can Be Disruptive
An allergen could be an ingredient in foods you would never imagine finding it in.
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This article is reprinted by permission from NextAvenue.org.
Aging can cause your stomach to produce less gastric acid, resulting in deficiencies in nutrients like zinc, vitamin D or iron. This can lead to an alteration in the immune system itself. In addition, There is a higher usage of antacids and alcohol, both of which can change the pH of the stomach over time, leading to food allergies, says Dr. Tania Elliott, spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
About one in 10 people have food allergies, and half develop them as adults. And half of adults with numerous food allergies developed at least one of them as an adult, according to a study by Northwestern Medicine and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Childrens Hospital. A food allergy is an immune system response to a food, causing itching, hives, swelling, low blood pressure, anaphylactic shock or a respiratory reaction that can be life-threatening.
Diagnosing food allergies
To test for a food allergy, an allergist uses a skin prick test, pricking your skin with tiny allergen-laden needles to see if your skin reacts. A blood test can also be used. Testing is straightforward, yet many people with allergies remain undiagnosed, Elliott says.
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What Are The Causes Of Food Allergies In The Body
When you start getting food allergy reactions after eating food or protein, your immune system identifies this food as harmful. Your immune system provokes or triggers cells in response to discharge or produce an antibody called immunoglobulin E , which neutralizes the allergy-causing substance present in food .
When you eat a food that is allergic over and over again, these antibodies remain entirely ready. The immune system reacts instantly by releasing histamine and other chemical substances into your bloodstream. These substances are responsible for causing the significant symptoms of food allergies.
Histamine is responsible for a swollen skin. It also causes your blood vessels to expand, affects your nerves, and makes your skin feel itchy or show other harmful symptoms.
What Are The Symptoms Of Food Allergy
Allergic symptoms may begin within minutes to an hour after ingesting thefood. The following are the most common symptoms of food allergy. However,each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
Lowered blood pressure
According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, itdoes not take much of the food to cause a severe reaction in highlyallergic people. In fact, as little as 1/44,000 of a peanut kernel cancause an allergic reaction for severely allergic individuals.
The symptoms of food allergy may resemble other problems or medicalconditions. Always consult your child’s doctor for a diagnosis.
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What Is Food Intolerance
A food intolerance isn’t the same as a food allergy.
People with food intolerance may have symptoms such as diarrhoea, bloating and stomach cramps. This may be caused by difficulties digesting certain substances, such as lactose. However, no allergic reaction takes place.
Important differences between a food allergy and a food intolerance include:
- the symptoms of a food intolerance usually occur several hours after eating the food
- you need to eat a larger amount of food to trigger an intolerance than an allergy
- a food intolerance is never life threatening, unlike an allergy
Read more about food intolerance.
Page last reviewed: 15 April 2019 Next review due: 15 April 2022
Can Allergies Be Prevented
Unfortunately, you cannot prevent the manifestation of adult-onset allergies. As we mentioned, these allergies sometimes spring up where none existed before. Other times, exposure to the allergen triggers a reaction. For those reasons, its difficult to say with certainty which triggers you should avoid.
While you cant always prevent adult-onset allergies, you can treat them as they develop. If, for instance, you notice you get an adverse reaction after eating shellfish or peanuts, you should refrain from eating these foods right away. Instead, set up an appointment with an allergy provider who can test your to see what is causing your symptoms
In the case of food allergies, the best treatment is avoidance. For pet dander, pollen, and other standard allergy triggers, you can try medications, including steroid nasal sprays and antihistamines, to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms. You can also try to keep yourself away from these allergens via lifestyle adjustments.
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Can You Develop Allergies Later In Life Out Of Nowhere
Adult-onset allergies are certainly possible and can affect you at any age. Such allergies can start, seemingly out of nowhere, usually due to exposure to new allergens in your environment.
It is also possible that your immune system has reached its maximum limit and any existing allergens in your environment may trigger new reactions that were not there before.
In any case, there are a number of reasons why you might experience allergies out of the blue including:
- Lifestyle factors
- New allergens in your environment
- Family history
- Any other changes to your immune system.