There are a variety of different food allergies that can affect children, but one of the most serious is that of nut allergies.
If your children suffer from allergies to nuts, or any of their friends do, then keeping up with the facts and being aware of the allergy could help save their life.
According to research, about one in 50 children have allergies to nuts. The severity of the allergy varies from child to child, with some only having minor symptoms and others having a more serious reaction if they eat or come into contact with nuts.
The symptoms of mild nut allergies include:
- Abdominal pain, sickness and diarrhoea.
- The sudden onset of a rash, itchiness or itchy eyes.
- A runny nose or sneezing.
- Suddenly feeling breathless and unable to breathe.
- A tingling sensation that occurs in the mouth, lips or on the tongue.
In the case of those who are severely allergic to nuts, the onset of symptoms is usually very fast, with children suddenly feeling very dizzy and experiencing sudden swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat.
Put together, these symptoms can cause severe breathing problems and, in the worst cases, anaphylaxis.
When you think of children’s allergies, you may associate the term with milder, less severe symptoms, so it’s quite scary to learn that allergic reactions to nut can occur so quickly and be so horrific for some children.
In severe nut allergy cases, a child doesn’t even have to eat a nut to get the reaction – the allergy can rear its ugly head if they touch a nut, are in close proximity to someone who has recently eaten nuts or use cutlery that’s been on the same surface as nuts.
What to Do if Your Child Has a Nut Allergy
If your child has had an allergy to nut diagnosed by a doctor or medical professional, or you know of other children who suffer from nut allergies, then it’s important to do your best to help them avoid nuts.
When they’re younger, this is something you’ll have to be actively involved in, but as they get older, they’ll need to build this awareness themselves and know what to do if they come into contact with nuts.
It’s not too difficult to help your child avoid eating nuts at home – although you may have to ban nuts from the house for everyone if the allergy is severe – but it can be more difficult to control when they’re at school, out and about or visiting friends houses.
Nurseries and schools will need to be informed about the allergy, and given details about what to do if an allergic reaction occurs (for example, if anaphylaxis occurs, an injection may be needed to counteract the effects).
It’s also important to let friends parents know, if your child is going there for tea or attending parties.
Other people can worry about feeding your child if they have an allergy and, if it’s a bad allergy, may prefer it if you provide their meals, or a picnic to take with them, to ensure your child doesn’t accidentally come into contact with nuts.
As they get older, kids will have to be aware of the risks themselves, learn to check food labels and take care to protect themselves from an unwanted allergic reaction.
Nuts do get into lots of food products though and many manufacturers now state on food packaging that they can’t guarantee that food items made in their premises haven’t come into contact with nuts.
Although it may sound alarming, many people do successfully live with nut allergies and not let it get the better of them.
By raising your own awareness, understanding the risks and knowing how to treat it if an allergic reaction occurs, you can live happily without a nut allergy ruling your life.