Food allergies in plain English: a guide for parents and carers

Food allergies

Food allergies in plain English: a guide for parents and carers

If you’re new to the world of allergies, we know they can be confusing. If you’re caring for your first child with allergies, there are several important things to know. Around 7% of British children have a food allergy. Sometimes, it can be hard to get straight to the relevant information online. We’ve written this guide in plain English so it’s easy to understand, and you can get some helpful tips on how to deal with a child with a food allergy.

What is a food allergy?

A food allergy is an immune system reaction to a particular food (the allergen). This means if your child ingests the food, or sometimes even comes into contact with particles from it, they will experience an allergic reaction. These reactions can be severe and immediate, which is known as anaphylaxis, and this can be deadly. It can also take a little longer, with milder symptoms including a rash, hives, swollen face, lips, or eyes, a blocked nose, watering eyes, or stomach pain for example. 

What is anaphylaxis?

This is a type of allergic reaction which may cause your child to find it difficult to breathe, come out in hives or a rash, develop swollen lips or tongue, to faint, vomit, or feel like something awful is about to happen. It can be fatal. If you think your child is having an anaphylactic reaction, call the emergency services and administer any emergency allergy medication the child uses, such as their Epipen. 

What problems can a food allergy cause a child?

Some children might benefit from seeking the help of a dietician, particularly if they have several allergies, because they might struggle to get all the essential nutrients they need. This is particularly important for young infants who have a milk allergy.

Is there a cure for food allergies?

Although researchers work continuously to find the answer to an allergy cure, there isn’t one just yet. However, you should visit an allergy specialist to find the best treatments available to your child which can greatly improve their quality of life and reduce any risks. You can also:

  • Teach your child about their allergy
  • Teach all their caregivers about the allergy
  • Speak to a professional allergist who can advise you on how best to manage the allergy

The best way to combat the risk from a food allergy is to make sure everyone is educated on the subject. You can use this guide to help you inform other people about the child’s allergy, helping to keep them safe throughout the day.

If you have more questions, the consultants at the London Allergy and Immunology Centre are happy to help. They can test your child for allergies and provide the best treatments and advice to keep them safe. All you need to do is book an appointment by calling 0203 143 3449.

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