This includes one in every thirteen children (under age 18) in the U.S. That’s roughly two children in every classroom. The CDC estimates that every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to an emergency room.
A reaction to food can range from a mild response (such as an itchy mouth) to anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially deadly reaction.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Symptoms typically appear within minutes to an hour after eating the food to which you are allergic.
Mild symptoms may include one or more of the following:
•Hives (reddish, swollen, itchy areas on the skin)
•Eczema (a persistent dry, itchy rash)
•Redness of the skin or around the eyes
•Itchy mouth or ear canal
•Nausea or vomiting
•Nasal congestion or a runny nose
•Slight, dry cough
•Odd taste in mouth
Severe symptoms may include one or more of the following:
•Obstructive swelling of the lips, tongue, and/or throat
•Shortness of breath or wheezing
•Drop in blood pressure (feeling faint, confused, weak, passing out)
•Loss of consciousness
•A weak pulse
•Greater than one episode of vomiting
Once a severe (anaphylactic) reaction starts, a medication called epinephrine is the first line of defense to treat the reaction. You should immediately seek emergency medical attention by calling 911.
Eight foods account for 90% of all reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction.
The good news is that most food allergies are often outgrown during childhood.
How a child might describe a reaction.
•Some children, especially very young ones, put their hands in their mouths or pull or scratch at their tongues in response to a reaction.
•Children’s voices may change (e.g., become hoarse or squeaky), and they may slur their words.
•The following are examples of words a child might use to describe a reaction:
“This food is too spicy”
“My tongue is hot (or burning)”
“It feels like something’s poking my tongue”
“My tongue (or mouth) itches.”
“My tongue feels like there is a hair on it.”
“My mouth feels funny.”
“My tongue feels full (or heavy).”
“My lips feel tight.”
“It feels like there are bugs in my ears.”
“It feels like a bump is on the back of my tongue (throat).”
Treatment for allergies
•Epinephrine medication (Epi-pen)
Consider medical-alert bracelets for children with severe allergies.
If you suspect your child might have food allergies, visit a board certified allergist.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Rafael Firszt, call 801-213-4500.