Severe Food Allergy In Children
Allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, are common, although deaths from anaphylaxis are rare. Most schools and childcare services across Australia are required to have an anaphylaxis management policy in place.Banning particular foods is not recommended as it can create a sense of complacency and is difficult to monitor and enforce. A better approach is to educate staff, students and the community about the risks associated with anaphylaxis and put strategies in place to minimise exposure to known allergens.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Food Allergy Reaction
An allergic reaction to food can have many different symptoms, and a single person can experience different symptoms from one reaction to the next. Many reactions start with skin symptoms, like hives or a rash, but some do not. More serious symptoms like a drop in blood pressure and trouble breathing can be life-threatening. Talk to your allergist and work with them to fill out a Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan to be prepared in an emergency. A complete list of symptoms of a food allergy reaction is available here.
What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of A Food Allergy
A person with a food allergy can have symptoms beginning as soon as 2 minutes after eating the food, but reactions may take 1 to 2 hours to appear. Occasionally, symptoms abate quickly, only to recur in 3 to 4 hours.
The most common symptoms include:
A severe allergic reaction can be life-threatening. This severe reaction is referred to as anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock. Signs and symptoms of anaphylactic shock are:
MSG reaction can be mistaken for an allergic reaction. Symptoms and signs of MSG reaction include:
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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.
Reach For The Epinephrine
Many people with diagnosed severe allergies will receive a prescription for an epinephrine autoinjector from their doctor. If you are carrying your autoinjector when you begin experiencing the reaction, give yourself an injection right away. If youre too weak to give the injection, ask someone who is trained to administer it.
Its important to keep in mind that this medicine is a timesaver, not a lifesaver. Even after an injection, you must seek emergency treatment. Call 911 as soon as you inject the epinephrine, or have someone drive you to a hospital immediately.
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Stay Calm And Find Help
If you are experiencing an allergic reaction, its important to focus and remain calm. Fully explain to a responsible person what just happened, what you think the allergen is, and what your symptoms are. Anaphylaxis will quickly leave you disoriented and possibly struggling to breathe, so its important you communicate the difficulties youre having as quickly as possible to someone who can help. If you are alone when the reaction occurs, call 911 immediately.
If you are helping someone who is experiencing an allergic reaction, its important to encourage them to stay calm. Anxiety can make symptoms worse.
Identify what caused the reaction, if you can, and remove it. Make sure the person has no further contact with the trigger.
Monitor them for signs of a reaction. If they show signs of difficulty breathing or loss of circulation, seek emergency help. If you know that the person is severely allergic to the allergen, call 911.
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.
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Preparing For Your Appointment
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:
- What are your allergy symptoms?
- How long have you had these symptoms?
- Do you have an idea of what is causing your symptoms?
- Are your allergies present all year, or do they get better or worse with different seasons?
- Have you had an immunization shot recently?
- What have you tried at home to decrease your symptoms? Has it helped?
- What prescription or non-prescription medicines have you tried in the past? What worked and what didn’t?
- What other prescription and non-prescription medicines are you taking?
- Have you recently gotten a tattoo or body piercing?
- Do you have any health risks?
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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How Are Food Allergies Treated
When you know what foods you are allergic to, the best approach is to strictly eliminate those foods from your diet and to have emergency medications including epinephrine autoinjectors available at all times in case of accidental ingestion and reaction. Its important to seek emergency medical care immediately after using an epinephrine autoinjector. Wearing a medical alert identification indicating your food allergies is also recommended.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicines that reduce your allergic reaction symptoms. These medicines include:
- Epinephrine , a lifesaving emergency medication that immediately begins reversing symptoms of anaphylaxis.
- Antihistamines, medications that reduce itching or congestion.
- Corticosteroids to reduce swelling if you have a severe allergic reaction.
Wondering If You Have One Find Out Here
Because a food intolerance lasts for just a few days at a time, you may not be questioning your nausea or your headaches. But with the increasing prevalence of food allergies and food sensitivities, these issues can be very serious.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to determine if you have a food sensitivity:
- Do you feel abdominal pain within 2 hours after eating any of the foods on this list?
- Do you feel nauseous after eating?
- Have you ever had a severe headache or a migraine after eating or drinking a specific thing?
- Do you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, but notice it really flares up after eating certain foods?
- Do you have frequent headaches accompanied by nasal congestion?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have a food intolerance. Start taking note of the foods you consume that trigger your symptoms. Again, be sure to set an appointment with your healthcare professional to discuss further steps to manage your condition.
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Treatment For Food Allergies
The main way to deal with food allergies is to avoid them. For highly allergic people, even tiny amounts of an allergen can trigger a reaction. Less-sensitive people may be able to have small amounts of a food that they’re allergic to.
Once you’ve identified the food, you have to stop eating it. That may mean reading long, detailed ingredient lists because many allergy-triggering foods are in things you wouldn’t expect to find them in. Peanuts, for example, may be included for protein, and eggs are in some salad dressings. At restaurants, you might have to ask about the ingredients that are in specific dishes or in the kitchen.
Even people who are very careful can make a mistake, so if you have severe food allergies, you must be prepared to treat an accidental exposure. If you’ve had anaphylactic reactions to a food, you should wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace. And you should carry two auto-injectors of epinephrine and be ready to use them if you think a reaction is starting. Mild symptoms such as tingling in your mouth and throat or an upset stomach might not be an allergic reaction, but you should still give yourself an injection. It won’t hurt, and it could save your life. Then call 911 or get a ride to the emergency room.
Medications can help relieve food allergy symptoms that aren’t part of an anaphylactic reaction:
- Antihistamines for digestive issues, hives, and sneezing and a runny nose
- Bronchodilators for tightened airways or asthma-like symptoms
Skin And Ear Problems In Dogs With Food Allergies
Skin problems are common in dogs with food allergies. At first glance, this seems kind of odd, but it makes more sense when you think about how people react to food allergies.
Dogs with unchecked food allergies may also have trouble with their ears.
Some of the most common health issues associated with legitimate dog food allergies are:
Similar symptoms may be caused by environmental allergies to triggers like pollen, mold, and house mites, but these, at least to start with, are often seasonal.
For this reason, its important to track whether your dogs symptoms ebb and flow with the changing of the seasons.
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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
How Are Dog Food Allergies Diagnosed
Diagnosing food allergies in dogs isnt always a straightforward process. Its not like theres a simple test that can instantly tell what your dog is allergic to or, if indeed, he has food allergies at all.
You have to start at the beginning, with the help of your veterinarian, to know for sure whether your dogs skin or ear issues are caused by food allergies.
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Do You Need To Follow
Let the person’s primary healthcare professional know about the reaction later if he or she was not involved in their treatment.
An allergy specialist can determine the difference between true food allergy and food intolerance.
- The allergist will ask about the sequence of events that led to the reaction and record a thorough dietary and medical history.
- He or she may use special tests to find out which food is responsible for the allergic reaction.
The first step in evaluation for food allergies is testing.
- Skin test: Dilute extracts of various foods are placed on the skin. The allergist looks for the formation of a bump on the skin after 10 to 20 minutes. Swelling at the site of the test can mean that the person is allergic to that particular food.
- Blood test: This may be used to check for antibodies against specific food allergens. These results are confirmed with the oral challenge test in which small doses of the suspected food are given in a mixture of different foods to look for a reaction. If symptoms develop, then the person is proven to have allergies to the particular food.
- Elimination diet: With this test, the person stops eating foods that may be triggers. Gradually these foods are reintroduced back into the diet. The allergist will then be able to pinpoint the allergy-causing food if a reaction occurs.
Timeline Of An Anaphylactic Reaction
A dangerous allergy response
An allergic reaction is your bodys response to a substance that it deems dangerous or potentially deadly. Spring allergies, for example, are caused by pollens or grasses.
A deadlier type of allergic response is possible, too. Anaphylaxis is a severe and sudden allergic reaction. It occurs within minutes of exposure to an allergen. If not treated appropriately, anaphylaxis can turn deadly very quickly.
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Issues Mistakenly Linked To Food Allergies
Although some people think certain illnesses can be caused by food allergies, evidence doesn’t back up such claims. Histamines in cheese or red wine, for example, can trigger migraines. But we can’t say that food allergies actually cause migraines. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis aren’t made worse by foods. Food allergies don’t cause “allergic tension fatigue syndrome,” where people get tired, nervous, and may have problems concentrating or headaches.
Cerebral allergy is a term that describes when mast cells are supposedly releasing their chemicals in the brain — and nowhere else in the body — causing trouble concentrating and headaches. Most doctors don’t recognize cerebral allergy as a disorder.
Even when their surroundings are very clean, some people have many general complaints like problems concentrating, fatigue, or depression. Environmental illness may be the result of small amounts of allergens or toxins, but not food allergies.
Researchers have found that hyperactivity in children may be related to food additives, but only occasionally and only when the child has had a lot of them. A food allergy won’t directly affect a child’s behavior, although their symptoms might make them cranky and difficult, and allergy medications can make them sleepy.
Food Additives And Intolerance
Many people are concerned that they may have an intolerance to food additives. However, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, most studies show that few additives cause problems and that these problems affect relatively few people.
Food producers often use additives to enhance flavors, make foods look more appealing, and increase their shelf life. Examples of food additives include:
Of the thousands of additives that the food industry uses, experts believe that only a relatively small number cause problems. The following food additives can cause adverse reactions in some people:
- Nitrates: These preservatives are common in processed meats, and the symptoms of an intolerance can include headaches and hives.
- Monosodium glutamate : This flavor enhancer can cause headaches, chest tightness, nausea, and diarrhea in those with an intolerance.
- Sulfites: Common sources of these preservatives include wine, dried fruits, fresh shrimp, and some jams and jellies. People with an intolerance may experience chest tightness, hives, diarrhea, and sometimes, anaphylaxis.
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Oas And Nose Allergies Can Be Linked
- Over 50% of people who are allergic to pollen also have OAS. This means 10% of all people.
- Ragweed pollen allergy can cross-react with all melons. Also, sometimes with bananas and tomatoes.
- Birch pollen allergy can cross-react with raw potatoes, carrots, celery and apples.
- Grass pollen allergy can cross-react with tomato and kiwi.
What Steps Do I Need To Take For Signs Or Symptoms Of Anaphylaxis
- Immediately give 1 shot of epinephrine only into the outer thigh muscle.
- Leave the shot in place as directed. Your healthcare provider may recommend you leave it in place for up to 10 seconds before you remove it. This helps make sure all of the epinephrine is delivered.
- even if the shot improved symptoms. Do not drive yourself. Bring the used epinephrine shot with you.
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