Allergies and asthma, which typically start in childhood, are the most common chronic diseases among children, but what is an allergy? An allergy is what happens when your immune system reacts abnormally to harmless substances in the environment. These substances are known as allergens. Some of these allergens include, dust mites, pollens, animal dander and foods.
The immune system has an important job: to defend and protect your body from invaders such as bacteria and viruses. However, in certain cases the immune system will respond excessively and damagingly to a certain trigger, and leading to an allergic reaction
There are different types of allergies that all fall under three categories: respiratory allergies, skin allergies and food allergies. This month the focus is on food allergies and the most common allergenic foods.
What usually happens when someone has a food allergy is that his or her body sort of misfires. Instead of treating the allergenic food like any regular food, the body reacts as if it is harmful. In an attempt to protect the body, the immune system produces antibodies (special proteins designed to fight infections) against that allergenic food.
A group of the eight major allergenic foods is often referred to as the Big-8 and comprises milk, eggs, peanuts, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat and soybean. These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies. In this article, we will be talking about the 3 most common food allergies in children, which are, peanuts, milk & eggs allergies.
An allergic response to peanuts usually occurs within minutes after exposure.
Signs and symptoms can include:
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Swollen lips and throat
- Sore, red and itchy eyes
Anaphylaxis: A Life-threatening Reaction
Peanut allergy is the most common cause of food-induced anaphylaxis
Anaphylaxis signs and symptoms can include:
- Constriction of airways
- Swelling of the throat that makes it difficult to breathe
- A severe drop in blood pressure (shock)
- Rapid pulse
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or loss of consciousness
This is another common allergy in the pediatric population. In some children the symptoms can be very obvious, however in certain cases the symptoms are less clear
Signs and symptoms of a cow’s milk protein allergy might include:
- Itchy skin rash, often around the mouth
- Colic, in babies
- Fussiness and irritability
- Bloating and gas
- Blood in the stool
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Poor weight gain
It is also important to remember that all the signs and symptoms are not always present. For this reason, at times, this can be a difficult diagnosis to make.
Egg allergy symptoms usually occur a few minutes to a few hours after eating eggs or foods.
Reactions vary from one person to person and usually occur soon after exposure to eggs. Egg allergy symptoms can include:
- Skin inflammation or hives — the most common egg allergy reaction
Food allergies can sometimes be prevented from the beginning by following some healthy lifestyle tips such as:
- Breastfeeding exclusively for the first four to six months may help prevent asthma, eczema, and certain food allergies.
- Introducing solid foods gradually between four to six months of age. Eggs, dairy, peanut, tree nuts, fish and shellfish can be gradually introduced after less allergenic foods have been tolerated. In fact, delaying the introduction of these foods may increase the baby’s risk of developing allergies.
Allergic children can have a very healthy and safe life, and the first step for that is to look out for any symptoms of allergies. In case you suspect that your child has any allergies, make sure to take him/her to a doctor to help diagnose the condition and give you the proper plan for managing the allergies.
This article was brought to you by Tabibi 24/7, Cairo’s leading family medicine & pediatrics group practice. Tabibi operates 24/7 and offers its services in the comfort of your own home or in one of its clinics.
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