Food Allergy

Various symptoms and syndrome, at commonly attributed to foods, but true food allergy relatively uncommon. Many genuine reactions (such as lactose intolerance) do not directly invoke immune system, and many behaviors (such as fatigue and hyperactivity) are often provoked neither by food allergy. As already noted, some foods such as nuts, berries, chocolate, tomatoes, wheat, and milk products may be involved in eczema, hives, or more serious reactions. In some children certain foods provoke vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, and/or cramp pain; whether or not the reaction is truly allergic or occurs on some other basis, the particular food in question should be avoided.

Food allergies (or other forms of intolerance) can be difficult to identify conclusively since foods are complex substances and the relationship between the food and the reaction may not be clear-cut. Keeping a diary of both foods and symptoms sometimes helps. Skin tests help in some cases, but reactions in the skin do not always correlate with responses to foods. For many children a diagnosis can be made using elimination where the child is first given simple foods that are unlikely to cause a reaction, and then others are added gradually. An elimination diet should be supervised by a physician’s dietitian to reduce the risk of nutritional deficiencies

Bites or Stings

These may result in local or widespread allergic reactions. An immediate hyper-sensitivity reaction (usually resulting from venom from bees, wasps, hornets, or fire ants) may be seen, involving hives, wheezing, and a rapid drop in pressure known as anaphylaxis. This is a medical emergency, and rapid treatment with epinephrine, intravenous fluids, and other medications will be necessary. These insects should not only avoided in the future, but treatment kits containing a lotion of epinephrine should be available at home, in car, or in the gear taken on camping trips or other things. Immunotherapy (allergy shots) may be recommended to prevent this type of reaction.

The more common delayed hypersensitivity allergy produces dramatic local swelling around the site of bite or sting, but this occurs over one or two days and accompanied more by itching than by pain. Antihistamines will reduce the swelling and itching, or art course of oral steroids may be prescribed to resolve reaction more quickly.