How do you know what the signs of a food allergy are in your child or someone in your family?
If you are like us, we went to the doctors looking for the official diagnosis, and found not a diagnosis, but more questions. Blood and skin tests showed no allergies, yet, both of my children, in particular, showed allergy and intolerance symptoms.
My family’s journey started when my first son was an infant. I didn’t know it, but what I was putting into my breast milk, was making my son colicky. I took him to the doctor, who told me he had an immature digestive system. I thought well, okay, does that mean something is wrong with my baby? The doctor assured me there was nothing wrong with him, and that it happened to a lot of people. In retrospect, it was probably poor gut microbiomes, passed down by me, his mother.
However, that one even took me down a path of questions about food allergies and their symptoms until his special needs brother was born, which no doctor could answer. I didn’t realize they couldn’t help me until my baby’s new doctors either told me the same thing my first son’s physicians said, or they told me things I knew were wrong. So, I began the journey of learning….without doctor assistance.
What I have learned here is from my own research, watching tons of Health webinars and asking questions of the doctors who actually took me seriously.
What are the signs of a food allergy?
Food allergies involve the immune system. You can read some of the geeky medical science here and even more here, about it. Basically, food allergies can become dangerous, particularly when reactions involve an analphylactic response, or a closing of the airways after a food is eaten. Other signs include:
*Shifts in bowel movements, such as diarrhea, or vomiting.
*Fatigue and mood swings.
*Eczema and other skin rashes.
*Allergies and asthma, more seriously, analphylactic responses
*Arthritis, and/or swelling in the joints.
What is a food intolerance?
Food intolerances develop over time. Whereas with an allergy, a person can experience an immediate analphylactic or asthmatic response to a food, a person with a food intolerance will exhibit slower-developing symptoms. They may eat a food they are intolerant to, but the effects may not show up until 24-48 hours later in their body’s response. A food intolerance will also slowly wear down the body, ebbing and flowing with the ingestion of foods your body responds negatively to. Here are some physical signs of a food intolerance:
*Subtle and not so subtle changes in poop texture and color.
*General gastric upset and reflux
*Reduced immune system, such as getting colds and viruses more readily
*Runny noses, congestion
*Eczema and skin rashes
*Mood swings and fatigue
*Asthma that is slow and persistent.
Can food allergies and intolerances cause behavioral problems?
Our own family is a testament to this. Changing a food you think might be affecting your child’s health can also help some disorders diagnosed by doctors. For example, many children on the autism spectrum dramatically improve when gluten and cow’s milk products are removed from their diets. My own special needs son was really sensitive to certain foods, particularly when he was little, and his behavior would dramatically improve when I removed foods he was sensitive to.
Most children will show improved behavior when you remove not only sugar, but some children react excessively, to fructose corn syrup, red dyes and other processed foods. They may reflect asthma, allergies and even be diagnosed with attention deficit disorders. Your child, or even several children in your family may have multiple food issues and allergies–you probably already know this.
What are the 8 foods most likely to cause food allergies, especially in children?
*Tree nuts (This does include almonds, but many seem to tolerate almonds over other tree nuts.)
How do I find out if my child has a food allergy or intolerance?
You can do this in two ways:
- If you suspect food allergies or an intolerance, begin removing some of the foods listed above, and watch for improvements in your child.
- Or, you can visit a doctor, and even an allergist to assist you in a possible diagnosis. You can also visit a pediatric gastrointestinal physician to help with any bowl or stomach problems. All of these are good ways to receive medical assistance outside of the pediatrician. However, for our family, none of that helped us.
My first son, in particular, had several inconclusive skin tests, which would highlight a food in one test and then not in another. Even then, the allergist told me that he could not fully conclude he had allergies, even though his symptoms reflected food allergies.
I requested a straight blood test for my special needs son (the skin tests were horrible for my first son, and he was a typical child), but nothing showed positive in his results either.
Basically, if you know a food is a problem, drop it for a short period if you need to, and trust your own Mommy instincts.
Research, research, research your child’s health problems.
Yes, I know, you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet, but go to reputable websites to find medical and clinical information to assist you. Further, if you suspect a food problem, remove the food; sometimes the simplest solution is the solution. It is true, that mom always does know best. You know your child better than anyone.
Research troubling health concerns, and check out any resources you can find on food allergies and your child’s symptoms. Go to the pediatrician for a check-up and ask questions. Get a blood test if you feel it’s necessary. Get referrals to other specialists if you have to.
Healthy children are happy children. All of us deserve that, even if we have special needs children.