The question I get asked the most regarding food allergies is, “How did you find out your child was allergic to food?” Was there a trip to the ER involved? Were youi able to deduce the problem based on some symptoms that you noticed? Was allergy testing recommended at a regular doctor’s appointment? Yes and no…
We found out my daughter was allergic to peanuts when she was 4 years old. My husband and I love peanut butter and consumed it all the time prior to finding out about her allergy. We could not understand why she did not want to even try a bite of a peanut butter sandwich, our childhood staple growing up. Since children can be stubborn and we have a “don’t knock it until you try it” policy at home, we made her take one bite of a peanut butter sandwich when she was about 2 years old. She promptly spit it out and cried. There was no allergic reaction and we never even thought about the possibility of an allergy to peanuts. We simply didn’t give her peanut butter. However, the rest of us ate it at home.
Since my daughter suffered from itchy skin that we could not control with lotions and creams, we were finally referred to an allergist for allergy testing. We found out the itchy skin was the result of an egg allergy (see below). However, we also found out that she was very allergic to peanuts. Her skin and blood tests resulted in very high numbers indicating a severe allergy. In hindsight, this was not a surprise with her natural aversion to peanuts. The allergist explained it was her bodies way of protecting itself.
When my son was about a year and a half old he developed red welts on his face that persisted for months. Our pediatrician prescribed hydrocortizone creams to no avail. We bought fragrance free detergents with no luck. Finally, we were referred to an allergist where skin and blood testing revealed that he was allergic to eggs. We enjoyed scrambled eggs many mornings prior to this diagnosis. When eggs were removed from his diet, his skin cleared up almost immediately. After his diagnosis, we also found out that my daughter was suffering from the same allergy that was causing her itchy skin. The egg allergy for us is not life threatening. My children have no natural aversion to eggs, and my daughter actually misses those cheesy scrambled eggs she use to eat. Unfortunately, my children are also unable to eat baked goods made with egg, such as cakes and cookies. This is not always the case for the egg allergic. I was also allergic to egg as a small child, but could always eat egg in baked goods. Since 80% of children grow out of their egg allergy to some degree, I am optimistic that our children will be able to at least eat those hidden eggs baked into goods when they get older.
My son was diagnosed with a shellfish allergy at a retesting allergy appointment. It had not shown up at previous appointments and was a surprise. He always disliked fish, but did eat it at home. In fact, we had been to a crab shack where he had his first taste of crab dipped in butter a year before this appointment. He didn’t like it, to our surprise, at the time. Since shellfish allergy carries a significant risk of anaphlactic shock, we completely avoid it since his diagnosis. However, the big surprise came when we found out about his fish allergy.
He was tested for fish at the allergist office and it came back negative, only shellfish yielded positive results. However, while eating a Tilapia fillet at home, my son told me that his throat felt funny. Upon further discussion, he revealed that it felt like his throat was closing in and it was hard to get the air through it. He was not turning blue. He was very calm, and seemed to be breathing fine. It was a very deceiving reaction. We took him to the ER where he started to develop a rash before being treated. This reaction is how we found out about his severe fish allergy. He still does not show a positive reaction to skin and blood tests, however.
It seems people are on high alert these days regarding food allergies and have fear about catching the symptoms too late. Others are just curious as to how they can be sure whether their family has food allergies. Well, as with most diseases, symptoms and stories vary per individual, and my experience may not mimic yours. However, learning about we were diagnosed may help alert you to life saving signs and symptoms found in your own family.
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