Myth or Medicine
Second Opinion 5
What is a Food Allergy?
A food allergy occurs when the body has a specific and reproducible immune response to certain foods. The body’s immune response can be severe and life threatening, such as anaphylaxis. Although the immune system normally protects people from germs, in people with food allergies, the immune system mistakenly responds to food as if it were harmful.
Eight foods or food groups account for 90% of serious allergic reactions in the United States: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, wheat, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts.
Symptoms of Food Allergy in Children
Symptoms Communicated by Children with Food Allergies
- It feels like something is poking my tongue.
- My tongue (or mouth) is tingling (or burning).
- My tongue (or mouth) itches.
- My tongue feels like there is hair on it.
- My mouth feels funny.
- There’s a frog in my throat; there’s something stuck in my throat.
- My tongue feels full (or heavy).
- My lips feel tight.
- It feels like there are bugs in there (to describe itchy ears).
- It (my throat) feels thick.
- It feels like a bump is on the back of my tongue (throat).
The symptoms and severity of allergic reactions to food can be different between individuals, and can also be different for one person over time. Anaphylaxis is a sudden and severe allergic reaction that may cause death. Not all allergic reactions will develop into anaphylaxis.
Treatment and Prevention of Food Allergies in Children
There is no cure for food allergies. Strict avoidance of the food allergen is the only way to prevent a reaction. However, since it is not always easy or possible to avoid certain foods, staff in schools and ECE programs should develop plans to deal with allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Early and quick recognition and treatment of allergic reactions that may lead to anaphylaxis can prevent serious health problems or death.
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