Identifying and Avoiding Food Allergy Triggers
A version of this article appeared in the Spring 2019 edition of
According to a 2018 study, approximately 8 percent of children in the United
States have been diagnosed with food allergies. The most common triggers
are peanuts, tree nuts (such as walnuts and pecans), cow’s milk,
eggs, fish (including tuna or salmon), shellfish, wheat, and soy.
It’s important to know the difference between food allergies and
intolerance. For example, a child may feel bloated after drinking milk,
but that could indicate lactose intolerance.
An allergic reaction is an immune system response triggered by food proteins
that can result in symptoms such as hives and rashes; swelling of the
lips, face or tongue; abdominal pain, vomiting and cramping; or wheezing.
For some people, food allergy can even cause a life-threatening reaction
known as anaphylaxis that requires immediate medical attention; signs
include difficulty breathing, a swollen throat, rapid pulse, drop in blood
pressure, and loss of consciousness. Call 911 if these symptoms occur.
Parents should help their children steer clear of foods that trigger a
reaction. Be sure to notify your child’s caregivers, school and
any restaurant servers about his or her allergy (you can easily communicate
foods to avoid with a customizable “chef card,” available at
www.foodallergy.org). Before your child goes to a friend’s house, make sure the parents
know which foods may trigger an allergic reaction.
Many children outgrow their allergies, with an estimated 80 to 90 percent
of egg, milk, wheat, and soy allergies disappearing by age 5. Kids are
less likely to outgrow peanut, nut or seafood allergies. Work closely
with your pediatrician or allergist to determine the best way to manage
your child’s allergies.
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