Thursday, January 5, 2017

Diagnose Food Allergies in Children

A child who sneezes or coughs a lot, who frequently develops a rash or hives, or who gets a stomachache, cramps or nausea after eating certain foods may have allergies. Many types of food can
cause allergic reactions in middle childhood. The most common of these are cow's milk and other dairy products, egg whites, poultry, seafood, wheat, nuts, soy, and chocolate. Allergies are
caused by antibodies that the body's immune system produces, which react to a component of a particular food and then release chem­icals that cause allergic symptoms like a runny nose,
sneezing, coughing, and itching. 
People often confuse food allergies with food intolerance because of similar symptoms. The symptoms of food intolerance can include burping, indigestion, gas, loose stools, headaches,
nervousness, or a feeling of being "flushed." But food intolerance:
•doesn't involve the immune system
•can be caused by a person's inability to digest certain substances, such as lactose
•can be unpleasant but is rarely dangerous
According to the Food Allergy Research and Education network (FARE), 1 in every 13 children in the United States under age 18 have food allergies. They are less common in adults but, overall,
food allergies affect nearly 15 million people in the United States.Any child may develop allergies, but they are more common in children from families with a history of such reactions. Early identification of childhood allergies can improve quality of life.
However diagnosing food allergies is not easy. Identical symptoms may be caused by other disorders, and pinpointing the offending food can be difficult. 
Symptoms of Food Allergies:
Skin rashes or hives (atopic dermatitis or eczema)
Difficulty breathing (asthma)
Sneezing, coughing, a runny nose or itchy eyes
Stomach upset
Allergy Triggers:
Outdoors: tree pollen, plant pollen, insect bites or stings
Indoors: pet or animal hair or fur, dust mites, mold
Irritants: cigarette smoke, perfume, car exhaust
Foods: peanuts, eggs, milk and milk products
Common Food Allergens
A child could be allergic to any food, but these eight common allergens account for 90% of all reactions in kids:
6.tree nuts (such as walnuts and cashews)
8.shellfish (such as shrimp)

If you suspect your child has an allergy, make an appointment to the physician. Your physician may refer your child to an allergist, who has several diagnostic options. The allergist might
suggest an elimination diet, a procedure in which suspicious foods are removed from the diet for a period of time and symptoms are closely monitored to see if they subside. After several weeks
the foods are reintroduced one by one, and allergic responses are again evaluated to determine which food, if any, is really the cause of the problem.
Your doctor might also use skin and blood tests. He or she might prick the skin on your child's back or arm, and then introduce a liquid extract of the suspicious food to see if a response—
swelling and itchiness, for example takes place.
Some doctors also use the RAST test, in which a sample of your child's blood is mixed with food extracts. Then the blood is evaluated to determine whether antibodies to that food are present.
The reliability of this test may vary from laboratory to laboratory.
Treating a Food Allergy
After diagnosing your child with a food allergy, the allergist will help you create a treatment plan. No medication can cure food allergies, so treatment usually means avoiding the allergen
and all the foods that contain it.
You'll need to read food labels so you can avoid the allergen. Since 2006, a new food labeling law has made this a little easier. Makers of packaged foods are required to clearly state, in or
near the ingredient lists, whether the product contains milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, or soy.
Although there's no cure for food allergies, medications can treat both minor and severe symptoms. Antihistamines might be used to treat symptoms such as hives, runny nose, or abdominal pain
associated with an allergic reaction.
If your child wheezes or has asthma flare-ups (also called attacks) as the result of a food allergy, the doctor will likely recommend that a bronchodilator such as albuterol (which can be
inhaled from a handheld pump device) be taken right away to reduce breathing difficulties.

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