photo of peanuts

What is a Food Allergy?

Is your child having mild to serious reactions to certain foods? Are you curious what exactly a food allergy is? Stay tuned to learn about allergy basics, tips, and tricks!

What is a food allergy? 

When your body (your immune system) has a negative reaction to food. 

  • Reactions can range from life threatening to feeling gross.
  • Majority of reactions come from eating food, but for some even just touching or breathing a food can trigger a reaction (even a life threatening one).
  • Over 170 foods can cause a reaction.

 

Epinephrine, epinephrine, epinephrine. Because food allergy reactions are serious and unpredictable.

Reactions can be mild or severe. Mild symptoms are hives or itchy nose, and severe symptoms include trouble breathing, repetitive vomiting, weak pulse. Symptoms usually start 2 minutes to 2 hours after exposure. A previous reaction does not predict the future, so it’s important to always be vigilant!

Anaphylaxis is the most dangerous reaction to a food allergy. It can happen quickly, and it can be deadly. For some people, anaphylaxis can make it hard to breathe or hard for the body to circulate blood. When this happens, the treatment is epinephrine. Check out our list of things you must know if diagnosed with a food allergy.

We recommend you start by completing your Emergency Care plan. Why? Please do it. It is better to be prepared! About 40% of kids that have a food allergy have had a severe reaction.

 

The big 8.

The 8 most common foods people are allergic to are: milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts (like walnuts or pecans), wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish (like lobster, shrimp or crab). They account for 90% of all food allergies.

 

Let’s talk labels- but only for the big 8.

Did you know that federal law requires only these 8 foods, called ‘major allergens’ to be labelled on packaged foods? Let’s stop and think about this… it means that any other allergen does not need to be labeled. :0 What a pain! (One big one to know that is missed is sesame!) If this is your situation and you’re in doubt, you should call the manufacturer to ask. There will be a phone number on the package or on their website.

 

Where do food allergies come from?

We don’t really know, but we do know it is not your fault if your child has a food allergy! Family history appears to play some role. If a child has eczema, or asthma there is a greater risk. However, food allergies are on the rise, so many children have food allergies when their parents do not.

Preventing allergic reactions and food allergies

The only way to prevent a reaction is by avoiding the food your child is allergic to. Over 200,000 trips are made every year to the ER because of food allergies. Don’t want that to happen to you? It sounds extremely scary. There are something you can do when pregnant and when your baby first starts solid foods to try and prevent food allergies from developing.

Is there a cure?

Not yet, but there is a lot of promising research that shows we can get kids to at least tolerate a small amount of the allergen. There is lots of research happening right now exploring how to treat food allergies and the future is bright. What about growing out of food allergies, is that a thing? Sorta. Peanut, tree nut, fish and shellfish allergies are usually life long. Milk, egg, wheat and soy allergies usually begin in childhood and eventually may be outgrown. Only reintroduce foods with your allergist.

Is a food allergy the same thing as a food intolerance?

Nope! Different. A food allergy is an immune reaction and can be deadly. An intolerance is a digestive reaction. Both are every day realities for families and Foublie is here to help. If you suspect your child has a food allergy, it is important to confirm it with your doctor.

It may feel like none of your friends’ kids have food allergies.

You are not alone! Today there are almost 6 million kids in the US with a food allergy, that is 2 in every classroom. No one really understands why, but the number of people with food allergies has doubled between 1997 and 2011. You will find your tribe! We are here to get you started. You’ve got this!

Up Next: Getting started with a new food allergy diagnosis checklist

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