Don't be alarmed if your child reacts adversely after eating a specific food. Chances are they have developed an allergy to the food or an ingredient it contains.
It's not uncommon for children to develop food allergies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about one in 13 children (8%) in the United States has at least one food allergy.
Common signs of a food allergy include a rash or itchy skin, abdominal pain or discomfort, facial swelling, and diarrhea. When you notice any of these signs in your kids, it’s crucial to come in for a professional evaluation at Allergy & Asthma Clinic of Maryland in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Here Dr. Vasif Kalfa, our board-certified allergist, provides expert and personalized care for children and adults with most types of allergies, including food allergies. Read on to learn what to expect during food allergy testing, and how best to handle your child’s appointments.
What is a food allergy?
Food allergies occur in people of all ages. When you’re allergic to a specific food or ingredient, your immune system reacts abnormally when you consume it.
The food you’re allergic to erroneously triggers your immune system to produce antibodies, which in turn triggers the release of histamines in your body. This results in itching, rashes, nausea, vomiting, and, in severe cases, difficulty breathing.
Common food allergies in kids include nuts, soy, eggs, wheat, milk, and seafood.
When should you have your child tested for a food allergy?
It would be best if you got your child tested for a food allergy as soon as you notice any of the following signs after they eat a particular food:
- Pale skin
- Swollen tongue
- A recurring cough
- Difficulty swallowing
If you or your partner has a food allergy, your child is more likely to have one, too. It's advisable to have your child tested for any specific food allergies you or your partner has, even if they aren't yet showing any signs of having the problem themselves.
How do we test children for food allergies?
We test for food allergies in your kids in several ways. Common tests we use include:
This involves eliminating the suspected food your child may be allergic to from their diet for a period of time. If they begin to re-experience symptoms when the food is returned to their diet, they are likely allergic to it.
Skin prick test
Here, we place a small amount of the suspected food allergen on your child's skin and create a small prick. If your child is allergic to the food, the skin around the prick will react, becoming raised or inflamed.
With blood testing, we measure the antibodies that are typically triggered by food allergens in your child's body. If they’re higher than normal, your child may have a food allergy.
How to prepare your child for food allergy testing
Taking the time to prepare your child for their food allergy tests makes the process easier for everyone involved. As a first step, explain to your child — in a way that they can easily understand — why they’re coming to our office. It's natural for kids to have many questions, so take some time to address your child’s concerns and ease any worries they may have.
When you arrive, Dr. Kalfa can answer any lingering questions your or your child may have. He also ensures they feel comfortable and safe before testing begins. If your younger child typically gets anxious at the doctor's office, it may help to bring comfort items like their favorite blanket or stuffed animal.
Food allergies can be severe and, in some cases, life-threatening for children. It's crucial to identify and manage them with the help of an experienced allergist as soon as you notice the signs.
Do you suspect your child has a food allergy? Dr. Kalfa and our seasoned team at Allergy & Asthma Clinic of Maryland can help you get to the bottom of it. We serve patients in and around Silver Spring, Chevy Chase, Bethesda, Maryland, as well as the greater Washington, D.C. area. Call 240-332-8010 today, or click online to schedule an appointment any time.