Food allergies can cause a number of symptoms in infants, and these symptoms range from uncomfortable (such as eczema) to potentially fatal (such as anaphylactic shock). Therefore, it's important for parents to recognize the symptoms of an allergic reaction to food. While it's typical for food allergies to first appear when your baby begins to eat solid food, even breastfeeding can trigger an allergic reaction — if you're eating food that your baby is allergic to, small amounts of allergens in breast milk can trigger your baby's food allergies. An allergy test can help you determine the exact cause of your baby's allergies so that you can eliminate trigger foods from both your diet and your baby's diet. To help you determine whether or not your baby is experiencing an allergic reaction to food, here are four common symptoms:
1. Hives and Eczema
Two of the most common symptoms of a food allergy in infants are hives and eczema. Hives are small, raised red spots on your baby's skin that are similar in appearance to mosquito bites. Eczema is a red rash that can appear anywhere on your baby's body — it usually causes significant discomfort, since the affected area will be very itchy. Both of these symptoms will appear shortly after your baby eats food to which he or she is allergic.
2. Diarrhea and Vomiting
The immune response caused by food that your infant is allergic to can cause severe inflammation in his or her digestive tract. This inflammation causes vomiting and diarrhea. It is important to note that both of these symptoms can result in your baby becoming dehydrated -- any food that persistently causes vomiting or diarrhea should be eliminated from your baby's diet until you have the chance to speak to your pediatrician or an allergist, in order to determine if the vomiting and diarrhea is due to an allergic reaction.
3. Failure to Meet Weight Goals
The same inflammation that causes vomiting and diarrhea will prevent your baby from fully absorbing nutrients from food. Over time, this results in your child becoming underweight for his or her age. If your child routinely fails to meet weight goals, you should ask your pediatrician about allergy testing — your child's allergy may result in poor nutrient absorption, even if it is not severe enough to cause other symptoms.
4. Swelling and Trouble Breathing
One of the classic symptoms of a food allergy is swelling of the mouth and tongue. If the swelling is severe, it can block your baby's airway and result in trouble breathing. When your infant has notable swelling after eating certain trigger foods, they should be discontinued until you have a chance to talk to your child's pediatrician. If your child has trouble breathing due to swelling, call 911 — this can be a sign of anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal in both infants and adults.
When an adult suffers from a food allergy, the usual course of action is to try an elimination diet. Foods such as nuts, shellfish, soy, and wheat that commonly trigger food allergies are eliminated from the diet and slowly reintroduced in order to find which foods trigger an allergic reaction. However, growing babies need to eat a varied diet in order to receive enough nutrients to thrive — eliminating large portions of your child's diet can result in nutrient deficiencies. As a result, it's important to work with your child's pediatrician in order to determine exactly which foods are causing your child's allergic reaction, rather than attempting an elimination diet.
Your pediatrician will likely refer your child to an allergist for an allergy test. Allergy testing may involve introducing small amounts of a problem food, such as tree nuts, to your child's skin and monitoring for an allergic response. It may also involve your child eating small amounts of suspected trigger foods while being monitored for any signs of a reaction. An allergy test allows you to find out exactly which foods are causing your child's allergic reactions so that you can eliminate them from your child's diet. If you believe that your baby is suffering from food allergies, you should talk to your pediatrician and arrange for an allergy test to be performed — not only does this prevent discomfort due to eczema or digestive trouble, but it can prevent potentially fatal anaphylactic shock caused by an allergic response.
For more information, contact clinics like Ashburn Allergy.