Recognising a food allergy isn’t always easy. If your child has an immediate reaction to a particular food then it can be obvious. However, sometimes the symptoms are less obvious or there is a delay before they appear, making it difficult to link them to a particular food.
Risk Factors for Food Allergies in Children
Although it is impossible to identify which children will go on to develop food allergies, some factors do increase the risk of food allergies in children. If there is a history of allergies in your family, then it can increase the chances that your child will develop an allergy too. Children who have eczema are also more likely to food allergies, particularly if the eczema is severe or it appeared very early. Your child may never develop a food allergy even if both of these risk factors apply, but it can be helpful to be aware of the symptoms so that you spot any problems as soon as they appear.
Symptoms of Food Allergies
The symptoms of food allergies in children can vary in type and severity. Some reactions are immediate and very noticeable, while others can take a while to appear or are more subtle. Symptoms such as eczema, colic, reflux, and diarrhoea can actually be caused by a food allergy. It can be difficult to work out what is causing these problems, but your doctor will be able to test for possible allergies and to rule out any other causes.
If your child has an immediate reaction to a particular food, it is usually more obvious as the symptoms will appear within minutes of eating. The symptoms can affect your child’s skin, respiratory system, and digestive system. You may notice an itchy rash, which often starts around the child’s mouth, or some swelling, particularly around the lips and eyes. Other symptoms might include watery eyes, a runny nose, nausea or a scratchy feeling inside the mouth and throat. The most severe reactions can induce anaphylaxis, which causes wheezing, swelling of the tongue and throat, dizziness, or loss of consciousness. If you notice these symptoms, your child needs emergency medical care.