Severe food allergies are a major concern for parents. Allergies, such as to nuts and seafood, can be hard to manage. In Australia, around 10% of infants and 4-8% of children have a food allergy.
Here is all the information you need to know about food allergies from the 13 DOCTOR experts.
What is an allergy?
An allergy occurs when your immune system reacts to substances, known as allergens, found in dust mites, pets, pollen, insect stings, moulds, foods and some medicines.
Many people may think they are allergic to a food when in fact they are intolerant. A food intolerance is less severe than an allergy and can include the following symptoms:
- The inability to digest food
- Food poisoning
- A reaction to a food additive
- Disliking a food.
What is an allergic reaction?
Allergic reactions can cause a range of symptoms, including:
- Swelling of the face, lips and eyes
- Tingling mouth
- Abdominal pain
- Vomiting, diarrhoea or nausea
- Wheezing, difficulty breathing or asthma symptoms.
Be careful when introducing new foods to babies and children. If your child experiences any abnormal symptoms, contact your GP or healthcare professional immediately.
How to diagnose?
It is important for parents to be aware of the risk of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction which can be fatal. It is difficult to predict how severe a potential reaction may be, so it’s important to always be prepared. A food allergy must be correctly diagnosed by a doctor or healthcare professional. They will look into your medical and family history along with any symptoms you have notices. They can diagnose allergies through skin-prick testing and blood tests.
How to prevent a food allergy?
If your child has a food allergy, make sure other members of your family and household know how to treat symptoms. Effective ways to prepare for a potential allergic reaction can include:
- Avoid foods that cause the allergic reaction altogether
- Have medication on hand for severe reactions, including an EpiPen
- If needed, have the sufferer wear an emergency medical identification bracelet.
If your child is having a severe reaction, call 000 as soon as possible. If you need to speak with a doctor and the matter isn’t an emergency, 13 DOCTOR provides professional medical advice that you can easily access over the phone or via a video consultation using your phone or computer while you stay in your home. You can also receive medical prescriptions if needed.