The number of children diagnosed with allergies continues to rise. For reasons that have yet to be understood, children born after 1998 are more likely to have allergies than those born before. Many parents are quick to diagnose their child with an allergy when in truth, the diagnosis is best left to a doctor as the symptoms of food allergies can mimic the symptoms of a food sensitivity. Both are serious medical diagnoses, but each condition requires its own treatment plan. In truth, food allergies are distinctly different from food sensitivities.
Food allergies and food sensitivities can share these common symptoms:
- Stomach pain
Beyond those symptoms, each condition has its own signs.
Food sensitivities are characterized by:
- Gradual onset
- Reactions limited to the digestive system
Children and adults with food sensitivities can often eat small amounts of the offending food without a reaction. Large amounts, however, cause discomfort.
Food allergies are characterized by:
- Sudden onset
- A full immunological response
- Tingling mouth
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Swollen face/tongue/throat
Allergic reactions can lead to anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening situation in which the child has difficulty breathing and a sudden drop in blood pressure. Food allergies, in contrast to food sensitivities, are always severe. Total avoidance is the only way to prevent a reaction.
If you feel your child has an allergy or food sensitivity, make an appointment with your pediatrician or allergist. Understanding the condition is the best way to ensure your child receives proper treatment in order to live as unlimited and fulfilling life as possible.