Keeping Kids Healthy Advice
When you think of allergies, you probably picture red, watery eyes, sneezing, and runny noses. But unlike the seasonal-type allergy described above, food allergies, such as nut allergies, can cause serious problems for your child. People that are allergic to nuts must avoid eating nuts or any products with nuts in them. This can be more difficult than you might think.
An allergic reaction to peanuts may be mild or severe. Severe peanut allergy can cause anaphylaxis, which is a sudden, severe allergic reaction, and can cause several problems in different systems of the body at once. Anaphylaxis can produce hives, faintness or unconsciousness due to low blood pressure, swelling, tightening of the throat, asthma symptoms, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, tingling feeling in the lips or mouth, or even death.
The body of a person that has an allergy to peanuts does not treat the nuts as food. Instead, their immune system kicks in and produces antibodies, which are chemicals the body produces that fight infection. One of the chemicals released into the bloodstream is histamine.
Antihistamines are medicines that stop histamines from working, but they do not work quickly enough to control symptoms that occur from a food allergy. Antihistamines alone cannot control anaphylaxis. Adrenaline, or epinephrine, is a drug that works against all of the effects of all of the dangerous substances that are released in anaphylaxis. For serious allergic reactions, adrenaline needs to be injected.
Food allergies are difficult to diagnose. In general, doctors recommend that parents not give their children foods containing any nut products until after they are 2 years-old, especially if there is a family history of food allergies. Pregnant or nursing mothers should stay away from peanut products.
There is no cure for food allergies and the only way to prevent an allergic reaction to foods, such as peanuts, is by avoiding them. If your child has an allergy to any foods, make sure that they are aware that they should not eat any products containing those foods and that relatives, teachers, and parents of their friends know.
Some general tips to remember for a child that is allergic to nuts are: