Kids who have food allergies face a lot of day-to-day challenges. It can be even more challenging during the holidays, when more and unique foods are available and people who may not know about allergies are feeding kids. There are initiatives such as the Teal Pumpkin Project to help make holiday traditions accessible to as many people as possible. A teal pumpkin placed outside a home alerts kids and parents that non-food treats are available at that home.

Symptoms of food allergies can range from mild to very severe. Mild symptoms of food allergies include stomach pain, vomiting, hives, nasal congestion, itchy mouth or ear canal, sneezing, and diarrhea. Severe reactions can result in swelling of the lips, tongue, and/or throat that prevents swallowing or even breathing,  shortness of breath, chest pain, and a drop in blood pressure that results in confusion or fainting.

Food allergies are categorized as either fixed (immediate) or cyclic (delayed). Symptoms of fixed allergies will appear right away, such as an itchy throat directly after eating peanuts. Up to 15% of allergies are considered fixed. Fixed allergies are diagnosed and treated similar to inhaled allergens. Cyclic allergies are more common but less understood. Cyclic allergies appear as a result of the body’s immune response and can take up to three days to appear.

If your child is experiencing symptoms of cyclic allergies to an unknown food source, your doctor may recommend keeping a food diary. In the diary, everything the child consumes is written down along with time of day. A doctor or allergy specialist can then identify foods that may be the allergy culprits and the family can systematically remove one at a time to see when the reaction occurs.


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