Five Common Food Allergies You Should Test Your Child For

common food allergens: wheat, soy, shellfish, milk, nuts

When you notice your child having an odd reaction during or after eating, such as wheezing, itching, coughing, swelling, abdominal pain or a rash, a food allergy may be to blame. Listed are five common food allergies for which you should have your child tested:

Wheat
When your child has a wheat allergy, their body thinks the proteins are harmful invaders. A natural histamine is then released by the body, sometimes causing vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing, hives, swelling or a drop in blood pressure. Keep in mind that a wheat allergy and celiac disease, or sensitivity to gluten, are different.

Tree and Peanuts
Tree nuts include walnuts, almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios and macadamias. Often, people who are allergic to peanuts are also allergic to tree nuts. Traces of peanuts or tree nuts are found in many foods, so if your child does have this allergy, you must read food labels carefully, noting products that say they were made in factories with these allergens.

Shellfish
There are two different types of shellfish allergy. One is to crustaceans, which include shrimp, crab and lobster. The other is to clams, mussels, oysters or scallops, known as mollusks. Shellfish allergies can cause very serious reactions, so you will need epinephrine nearby just in case your child comes into contact with the allergen.

Soy
You must read food labels very carefully if your child has a soy allergy, as soy is in many packaged foods. While this allergy is common at any age, mostly infants and children have it. Because soy comes from a legume, similar to peanuts, the symptoms are pretty much the same. If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to go to your primary care doctor to have your child tested for an allergy.

Milk
Milk allergies and lactose intolerance are not the same thing. A milk allergy can be life threatening instead of just causing digestive discomfort. This is the most common food allergy in children under three years old. While some reactions are mild, it is always a good idea to keep emergency epinephrine around in case of accidental ingestion.

When you do take your child in for testing, expect the primary care doctor or allergist to test your child with a skin test or blood testing. The best way for your child to avoid reactions is to stay away from the food causing them.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents concerned about food allergies.

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