There are two types of food allergy; which type depends on whether or not the allergic reaction is triggered by an antibody called immunoglobulin E (usually called IgE). These antibodies are the chemical signals that set off an acute (sudden) allergic reaction. In an IgE-mediated food allergy, reactions usually happen within a few minutes of eating the food, and almost always within 2 hours of eating the food.
Symptoms can include:
- reddening of the skin
- an itchy rash (hives or nettle rash)
- swelling of the lips, face or around the eyes
- itchy, runny nose and sneezing
- vomiting or diarrhoea
- in severe allergic reactions (defined as anaphylaxis), breathing can be affected, and the child can became pale, dizzy or lose consciousness (see anaphylaxis section)
The most common food allergies in children (accounting for 90% of all allergic reactions) are to egg, cow’s milk, peanut, tree-nuts (walnut, cashew, pistachio, pecan, Brazil nut, almond, hazelnut, macadamia), sesame, wheat, soya, , fin-fish (such as cod) and/or shell-fish (crustaceans and molluscs). In Europe, regulations ensure that 14 food allergens are highlighted in the ingredients list in packaged food which includes these foods and also mustard seed, celery, sulphur dioxide/sulphite and lupin seeds and flour.
We provide a complete service to diagnose and manage food allergy in your child. Our ethos is firmly grounded in allergy prevention, given that we now know how food allergy can be prevented, if the child has not already developed the allergy. I understand how frightening it can be to have a child with food allergies. We strive to help improve the confidence of the child and parent to manage their food allergy by advising on how to avoid the food and also advising on possible alternative foods (involving dietitians where appropriate), provision and training of emergency medication, and advice on staying safe whilst at home, school, travelling, and eating out. In a teenager, we focus on self-management in order to enable them to take better control of their allergies, whilst leading a normal life. We are also closely involved in the latest research for the treatment of food allergies through desensitisation.