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Allergies to foods in children and how to find out what you are allergic to when experiencing allergy symptoms

Updated on March 17, 2013
Courtesy of antpkr www.freedigitalphotos.net
Courtesy of antpkr www.freedigitalphotos.net

I’m not a medical expert by any means but I have a son with allergies and I wanted to share my experiences and the problems we face. When my son was 8 months old I tried him with some scrambled egg. He actually seemed to be enjoying it until about 10 minutes later when he did the most amazing projectile vomit I have ever seen. It was like “The Exorcist” but slightly less like pea-soup! He then turned very red and started swelling up – time for a speedy dash to the hospital.

One notable time was when I bought gingerbread men for him and his sister from the bakery department in a well-known supermarket. I checked with the baker if there was any egg in it, to be told in a very condescending manner that it was a biscuit and as such did not have egg in it. Cakes had egg to help them rise but a biscuit was flat and so didn’t require it. OK, fine, I thought, and gave them to the children to eat.

My son said it tasted horrid and made the back of his throat hurt so he didn’t want it. I was confused until I suddenly realized – it had icing on it – and after a phone call to the supermarket, I ascertained that although the biscuit didn’t have egg in it, the icing did! Luckily he hadn’t eaten enough of the icing to make him ill but it made me double-check (if not triple-check sometimes) in the future. You can’t be too careful.

Incidentally, the doctors we have seen about this all seem to think he is making up the fact that he can feel it in the back of his throat and don’t give it any credence at all. I can’t guarantee that it isn’t psychological but it would be nice to know if anyone else had the same experience.

The overriding symptoms which my son experiences are a) watery eyes, b) being itchy with either blotchy hives or blisters c) painful throat d) feeling tired. As well as these, shortness of breath is an indicator of anaphylactic shock (which so far thank goodness he hasn’t experienced). This happens if he has anything with egg or egg products.

We have to be particularly careful as one of the preservatives used in quite a number of food items (including some pizzas) is derived from egg and so can cause problems for him. In tests he has had with the hospital (see my Hub about my son’s Skin Prick test to see if he was allergic to any foods for more information on this) it turns out he is allergic to all nuts (except walnuts!) and shellfish as well. I seem to spend most of my time reading ingredient lists when I go shopping!

Courtesy of cool design www.freedigitalphotos.net
Courtesy of cool design www.freedigitalphotos.net

Obviously if you experience any severe allergy symptoms you must seek medical help immediately.

As well as doing various tests (I have mentioned what we have experienced in one of my other allergy hubs here ) the doctor may also ask you to keep a food diary as, unfortunately, the most obvious way to find out if you are allergic to any food is to experience symptoms after you have ingested it. This isn’t very nice really but it is horrid when you are experiencing symptoms and don’t know what the cause is. This can help with food intolerances as well.

In order to keep a food diary, you have to list everything that you eat (and I mean everything, down to the smallest pat of butter, any garnishes or even added salt and pepper) and this should help you to see a pattern. Every time you eat anything, write down what you eat and the time that you ate it. It actually helps to write your diary as soon as you have finished eating as you are less likely to forget things this way.

Then, if you experience any symptoms, write those down too at the time you experienced them. That way, you can refer back to the recently eaten foods to see any common denominators. It can seem to be a hassle but if you try to be as thorough as possible it will help in the long run. For example, different brands of the same type of food can vary slightly in their ingredient list so it helps to write brand names down too.

I think we have narrowed down all the things my son is affected by – so far so good anyhow! Now it is just a case of being careful when eating out and when shopping for ourselves. Most places are really good about allergies these days and will make a special effort to supply food that is safe for him.

Our most impressive experience was in Sardinia in a lovely pasta restaurant on the beach in Alghero. My Italian is appalling but I had written down a few phrases about my son being allergic to eggs and what on the menu was safe for him to eat. I popped in during the day to see if it would be possible for us to eat there in the evening and had a chat with the lovely chef who said that sadly all his pasta was made fresh daily with eggs. But, that he was happy to make some pasta without eggs just for my son! Needless to say I booked a table before he changed his mind and we had a delightful meal – if I remember rightly after a few glasses of vino, we may have given him a rather large tip too - but it was more than worth it.

If you think you have allergies, good luck to you and maybe pop along to some of my other hubs that include egg-free, nut-free and vegan recipes.

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