When you have a child, the last thing you are likely worried about on a day-to-day basis is whether or not they are allergic to the food they are eating. However, if you notice your child is having strange reactions when they eat sometimes, like severe diarrhea, itchy mouth and throat, or even more serious issues like facial swelling and hives, you may have decided to take them to an allergy specialist for testing. And if those tests revealed one or more food allergies, you may be wondering what you can or should do to help your child manage and deal with their newfound food allergies. Get to know some of the steps you can take to help your child with their food allergies so you can start right away.
Teach Them to Read Labels and Ask Questions
It is important that no matter what age your child is to teach them how to determine if foods are safe to eat. Peanuts, for example, might be in many products that you or your child might not expect. Many foods also have been manufactured in plants that also process peanuts, which can leave trace amounts in the other foods produced there.
Your child needs to learn to look for the food they are allergic to (as well as oils or other derivatives of that food) on the ingredients list as well as look for the label stating whether the manufacturing plant processes the allergen. Additionally, at restaurants, school, and friends' houses, your child will need to learn to ask questions about the foods they are being served and the ingredients therein to ensure they do not come into contact with the food they are allergic to.
Make Sure They Have an Epinephrine Auto-Injector (and Know How to Use It)
Another step that you will want to take to when your child has a food allergy is to get them an epinephrine auto-injector (like the EpiPen). These auto-injectors are essentially pens. The tip of the pen is a needle that injects epinephrine when pressed into the thigh and the injection button is pushed.
Epinephrine is a hormone that can help to reverse some of the effects of a severe allergic reaction when your child comes into contact with the food they are allergic to. It is a temporary and emergency solution that should be followed up by a trip to the emergency room or the doctor's office immediately.
You will want to ensure that your child carries an epinephrine auto-injector wherever they go. You will also want to teach them how to use the auto-injector in case you are not around if and when they have an allergic reaction.
Work with an Allergy Specialist to Monitor and Manage Their Allergies
New treatments are coming available every day when it comes to food allergies. Options like exposure to tiny amounts of an allergen, increasing over time, are currently being put through clinical trials and studies to see how effective they might be at reducing the severity of allergies to certain foods. It is important to keep in close contact with an allergy specialist so that you and your child can benefit from these advancements in treatment and could even potentially be a part of any clinical trials or studies for new treatments.
Now that you know some of the ways that you can help your child when they have been diagnosed with a food allergy, you can start right away with their allergy treatment.