In honor of Food Allergy Awareness Month, I wanted to touch on a topic that can be challenging for families. When dealing with food allergies and asthma, often times they’re intertwined, so it is important to know how to handle and prepare for both, whether it affects you or your loved ones.
There are certain signs that will occur if you experience a food allergy, signs that you must pay close attention to. Symptoms may vary from person to person and may include hives, itching, stomach pain, vomiting, swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat, coughing, wheezing, sneezing, shortness of breath, and others. There are also similar indicators when you experience allergy-induced asthma such as nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes or skin reactions.
The most common food allergy triggers in kids and adults include peanuts, tree nuts, cow’s milk, egg, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. When introducing new foods to your children, make sure to do so gradually and pay attention to their reactions. If your child does have a food allergy, make sure to consult with a physician. When going to school or out to eat, let people know of your child’s food allergies. Also be aware of cross-contamination (cookies baked on the same tray as peanut butter cookies). If your child needs a medical device (auto-injector) for allergy emergencies, make sure you have this with you at all times.
Knowing your family health history can also help greatly. Children who have one or both parents with allergies are more susceptible to developing the same condition. If you know your family has a history of food allergies or asthma, you may find it beneficial to seek out a specialized dermatologist, allergist or immunologist who will be methodical in their approach and will test your child thoroughly for all allergy triggers. Allergists should be consulted too if you or your child develop a peanut allergy or moderate to severe eczema.
Once you know what triggers food allergies or asthma in you, your child or family member, you can better prepare and learn to limit your exposure to those items. Make sure to create a strong relationship with your family doctor and check in with them on a regular basis. Work with your doctor to find the best treatment to manage your symptoms based on the level of your symptoms.
Food allergies and asthma need constant attention especially for your child. However, make sure they don’t feel left out or different from other kids. Keep your child engaged in social activities such as birthday parties and play dates. Just make sure to plan ahead and always let your child know what to expect and make them part of the planning process. This will make your child feel more comfortable and in control.
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