Diagnosing a Food Allergy in Children

Allergy foodOne in every 13 children suffers from a food allergy. In fact, between 1997 and 2011, children’s food allergies increased an estimated 50 percent. With these staggering statistics, it’s important to know the symptoms of a food allergy, how it is diagnosed and how it is treated.

Symptoms

Because children often can’t communicate exactly what they’re experiencing, it’s crucial to keep an eye on your child any time they try a new food for the first time. Mild symptoms of a food allergy include hives, sneezing, diarrhea, eczema and stomach pains. More severe symptoms include swelling of the lips, tongue, and/or throat, difficulty swallowing, chest pain, shortness of breath and loss of consciousness. Symptoms can occur within minutes to several hours after the food is eaten.

Diagnosis

If you suspect your child is suffering from a food allergy, it’s important to take him or her to a doctor as soon as possible to rule out any other illness or food disorders. As soon as a doctor has confirmed it is a food allergy, you will be referred to a board-certified allergist who can determine exactly what the allergy is. An allergist will conduct a number of tests, which may include a skin prick test, blood test, oral food challenge and trial elimination diet, to properly diagnose the food allergy.

Treatment

If your child is diagnosed with a food allergy, there are a number of ways to begin treating it. First and foremost, avoid feeding your child the problem food. If your child does eat the problem food and suffers mild symptoms, antihistamines and topical steroids can help. Children who are at risk of severe symptoms will be prescribed epinephrine, the only medication that can reverse the symptoms. This medication should be carried at all times and only used at the first sign of an allergic reaction.

If you’re concerned your child may be suffering from a food allergy, visit your local Medical City Children’s Hospital Urgent Care. Designed exclusively to meet the needs of children, Medical City Children’s Hospital Urgent provides quick, efficient service so you can avoid the typical hassle of a doctor’s visit.

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