An estimated 8% of children in the United States have a food allergy and many more live with an undiagnosed sensitivities to certain foods. The board-certified pediatric gastroenterologists at Kids and Tummies in Gulfport and Ocean Springs, Mississippi, offer comprehensive care for kids with food sensitivities and allergies. The physicians design individual treatment plans to identify trigger foods and address the symptoms of a food sensitivity or allergy. To learn more, call the nearest Kids and Tummies office or schedule an appointment online today.
The difference between a food sensitivity and a food allergy is what system of the body produces the negative response.
A food allergy is the immune system’s overreaction to a food product that isn’t considered harmful. When your child comes into contact with the food, their immune system produces antibodies to fight against it.
Some of the common foods that cause an allergic reaction include:
These are the most common food allergy culprits, but a child can have an allergy to other foods.
A food sensitivity describes an intolerance by the GI tract to certain foods. When your child eats a food they’re sensitive to, it’s their digestive system that produces the reaction.
This reaction might be due to a lack of digestive enzymes or because of certain components in the foods. For example, your child might be sensitive to the types of fermentable carbohydrates in onions and garlic. Or they may be sensitive to ingredients in processed foods, such as preservatives or artificial colorings.
Children who have a food allergy can develop symptoms like hives, swelling, and itching after eating the food. Your child can also have a severe reaction known as anaphylaxis.
Anaphylaxis causes sudden inflammation in the airways that makes it difficult for your child to breathe. It is a medical emergency.
With food sensitivities, your child might experience varying levels of digestive upset, such as:
Food sensitivities can also cause issues unrelated to digestive function, such as nervousness, headaches, and skin flushing.
The Kids and Tummies team works with you to pinpoint the cause of your child’s symptoms and confirm a food sensitivity or allergy.
With a food allergy, the treatment is strict avoidance of the food, including any processed foods that contain the food as an ingredient. In many cases, dietary changes are necessary to prevent a recurrence of symptoms and severe reactions like anaphylaxis. Your child’s provider works closely with you on a plan to help avoid exposure to food substances that cause a reaction.
If your child has a severe, anaphylactic reaction, they will need to use an epinephrine pen in the event they come into contact with a trigger substance. The medication in the pen helps to quickly reverse airway inflammation, so your child can breathe. They still need to receive emergency medical care at a local hospital.
For food sensitivities, your child will also probably need to avoid the food. Some children might need medications to treat stomach upset and pain due to sensitivities. Depending on the type of food sensitivity, the dietary modifications will vary.
To get help managing your child’s symptoms of a food sensitivity or food allergy, call the Kids and Tummies office nearest you or book an evaluation online today.