Allergies happen to be one of the most common health conditions affecting children in Nigeria, Africa and the UK.

The number of children who are diagnosed with food allergies is increasing steadily. Read further to glean some practical telemedicine answers to some common questions about childhood food allergies by the qualified and registered nutritionists at Wazima Health.

Are Food Allergy And Food Intolerance The Same Thing?

Children who have food allergies basically have an immune system that reacts to some proteins found in the food. In most of the instances, the food allergy happens suddenly & may be triggered by eating even a small amount of the food. Food intolerance on the other hand, doesn’t involve the immune system. So, the symptoms happen to be less severe than those of food allergy. Digestive problem is the common complaint that’s associated with food intolerance.

What Causes Food Allergies In Children?

Before any kind of food-induced allergic reaction, a child must have been exposed to the food before, at least once. It’s usually the second time that the child eats the food that the allergy happens. At that time, IgE antobodies react with the food, histamines are released which then causes allergic symptoms like asthma, hives, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, itching and so on.

Which Foods Cause Allergic Symptoms In Children?

There are mainly eight foods that cause allergic symptoms in children. Ninety percent of food allergies in Nigeria are caused by these foods. They include milk, wheat, eggs, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts and shellfish. However, peanuts, milk and eggs are the most common allergenic foods. Five percent of children in Nigeria under 5 years of age and eighteen under 18 years of age have allergies to these foods. Although food allergies are outgrown by children mostly, allergies to tree nuts, peanuts & shellfish can be life-long.

What Are The Symptoms Of Childhood Food Allergy?

Allergic symptoms can start within minutes to an hour of ingesting the food. Although each child may experience symptoms differently, the most common food allergy symptoms include vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, hives, eczema, swelling, breathing difficulty, swelling or itching of the tongue, mouth or lips, tightness or itching in throat, wheezing or low blood pressure.

Is There A Treatment For Food Allergies In Children?

Consult with your pediatrician if you find your child is allergic to certain foods but are unsure of which one(s). The doctor will carry out allergy testing and to identify the food that’s causing the problem and develop a treatment plan for your child. Your child may require medications such as antihistamines for treating the symptoms. But it is very important to avoid all those foods that have caused the allergic reaction.

If you want to prevent food allergies from happening, what you can do is breastfeed your in fact for at least 6 months, don’t give them solids until they are 6 months old, and avoid foods like cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, fish and peanuts during your child’s 1st year.

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