When should you Test your Child for Food Allergies?
Dr. Elvin Mendez, an allergist with Lee Health, says six percent of children struggle with food allergies. They can develop at just a few months old. “Food allergies, specifically, only affect about 15 million Americans. In children peanut seems to be the number one, in adults shellfish is the number one.”
While the exact cause of food allergies is unknown, children who have one or both parents with allergies are more likely to have some type of allergy as well. “Perhaps our early lack of exposure to this environment may be playing a role to children developing more and more allergies, and that is not just referring to food it also implies to environment allergies as well,” said Dr. Mendez.
If someone has an allergy, the reaction will take place seconds or minutes after exposure, often showing symptoms like shortness of breath, wheezing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or rashes and swelling on the skin.
While doctors say it’s good to be aware of possible symptoms, they don’t recommend testing a child or adult until a person experiences some type of reaction. “I think with allergies it’s best to wait until there are some symptoms. One of the problems we’re having with the current state of affairs is allergies has become popular so there’s a lot of over testing taking place,” said Dr. Mendez.
If a person has a reaction to a food it’s important they tell their doctor so specific testing can be done on that food particle. “There has to be some specific indications as to why a test would be performed on an individual and determining which test would be most appropriate for that individual,” said Dr. Mendez.
One test commonly performed is a skin test. “A skin test entails presenting a potential allergy to the skin by pricking the skin and it’s actually quite sensitive,” Dr. Mendez.
If a person tests positive to a food allergy the only treatment is avoiding that food.
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Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health – Caring People. Inspiring Care.