Kids Allergies: What You Need to Know
So your kid has an allergy, or even more than one… don’t despair! The AllerMates team is here to help.You’re not alone in this. We’re on your side, and on the side of millions of children with food allergies and other severe allergies. We’ve put together a lot of important information and tips to help you take control and manage your kid’s allergies, and it’s all in plain English.This is your place for practical wisdom and sound advice that will keep your child safe while making your life a little easier. Below, we’ve listed the most important things you can do to get started.
The first thing to know is to stay away from whatever makes your child react! Helping your child avoid allergens is the most crucial step you can take toward keeping them healthy. At first, reading every label and taking notice of every morsel your child eats may seem overwhelming, but that will become second nature very quickly. And when they’re old enough, teach them allergy rules so that they’re able to feel in control of their health too.These include:
- Never share food with friends
- Don’t eat anything unless you know it’s safe
- Read food labels, or have an adult read them first to be sure there are no allergens
- Tell an adult if you start to feel sick or strange after eating
- And of course, every child should know which foods he or she is allergic to and the most common things they can’t eat
- If your child is old enough, he or she should also know how and when to use emergency medication if it is prescribed for them.
If you suspect your kid has allergies but have not been to a doctor yet, make that appointment right now! Doctors can test to find out what your child is allergic to, monitor to see if symptoms get worse or better, and provide prescription medicine to help make symptoms go away. There is no “cure” for allergies*, so being able to manage reactions quickly and effectively is very important. Reactions can escalate quickly and even become life-threatening, and the only way to stop many reactions is with epinephrine. For some kids’ allergies, desensitization treatments (allergy shots) can help reduce or eliminate reactions over time. But these don’t always work and aren’t available for every allergen.
COMMUNICATE WITH OTHERS
Who’s in charge when you’re not around? Every adult who helps care for your child must know about allergy problems. Teachers, babysitters, camp counselors, friends and family members should be aware of what your child is allergic to, the symptoms of an allergic reaction, and how to respond if he or she has a reaction. If emergency medication is prescribed, all caregivers should learn how and when to use it. A Food Allergy Action Plan will help caregivers know what to do in an emergency, and a wristband or other allergy ID jewelry can help alert and remind them to be vigilant.
You’ll also have to teach your child how to speak up. When someone offers them food or candy, they should learn to automatically respond with something like, “No thank you, I have food allergies,” unless a parent has already approved of that specific item. Even adult friends or caregivers might accidentally offer them something they shouldn’t eat, so kids themselves are the last line of defense against reactions. Having the confidence and skill to remind adults that they can’t eat certain foods will help them stay safe even if someone else makes a mistake.
LEARN THE SYMPTOMS
Parents, children and all caregivers should learn the symptoms of an allergic reaction. They can change, so the reaction may not always happen the same way. But if any of these things happen after eating something, your child may be having a reaction.
- Their mouth tingles, burns or itches
- They start to feel itchy or get hives (red patches that itch or burn your skin)
- Their lips, tongue, face or other parts of the body start to swell or feel puffy
- They start to wheeze, feel they can’t get a breath or that breathing is harder. Sometimes it might feel as if there’s a lump in their throat, even if you can’t see anything there.
- If they start to get a runny or stuffy nose
- Their stomach may hurt, they may feel like throwing up or have diarrhea
When an allergic reaction starts, act fast!
- Children should tell an adult
- Use emergency medication if prescribed. Do it exactly the way the doctor has explained and the way you have practiced
ASK OUR MEDICAL EXPERTS
We get questions from parents and caregivers daily regarding kids’ allergies, and we go straight to the source for the answers – the experts, our doctors.