Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis in Children – recognizing and responding
A: Normally, your immune system protects you from pathogens and illness. It aids in the battle against bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that might make you sick. If you have a food allergy, your immune system wrongly perceives anything in a specific meal (most typically, the protein) as though it’s harmful to you. The dietary protein is known as an allergen, and your body’s reaction is known as an allergic reaction.
A: More than 90% of childhood food allergies are caused by egg, peanut, tree nuts, cow’s milk, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy. In Hong Kong, the most frequent food allergy triggers varied by age, with eggs, cow’s milk, and fish being more prevalent in young children and peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish being more common in older children and adolescents.
A: Allergies to egg, milk and soy are often temporary, and children grow out of them. Allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish, on the other hand, are often life-long.
A: Typical symptoms and signs of an IgE mediated food allergic reaction include skin (hives, swelling of face, lip and tongue), respiratory (breathing difficulty, wheeze), gastrointestinal (vomiting, abdominal pain), and cardiovascular (pale complexion and collapse).
A:Anaphylaxis is the most severe allergic response. Anaphylaxis symptoms often include two or more of the following bodily systems: skin (hives, swelling of face, lip and tongue), respiratory (breathing difficulty, wheeze), gastrointestinal (vomiting, abdominal pain), and cardiovascular (pale complexion and collapse). Yet, a decrease in blood pressure without accompanying symptoms might also be indicative of anaphylaxis. It is also crucial to remember that anaphylaxis can develop without the appearance of hives.
A: Allergic reaction has a quick onset, typically appearing within minutes after being exposed to an allergen. In rare circumstances, the time frame following exposure might vary by several hours.
A: Diagnosing a food allergy can be challenging as there is no one test that can confirm or rule out this medical condition. Both skin prick tests and blood specific IgE tests are useful first line investigations for evaluation of suspected food allergies. Sometimes in patients with uncontrolled eczema, the results of these tests can be falsely positive. Therefore, these tools must be interpreted together with other medical information to confirm the diagnosis. Further investigations, such as component diagnosis or functional IgE assays available in specialist allergy centers.
A: Someone who has previously experienced mild allergic reactions may suddenly suffer severe reactions that might be fatal.
A: The only medication that can treat anaphylaxis is epinephrine. Epinephrine, often known as adrenaline, is an injected medication that helps relieve the symptoms of a severe allergic response (Figure 1). While antihistamines can help ease certain minor allergic response symptoms, such as itchy tongue or hives, they cannot halt the potentially fatal symptoms of anaphylaxis.
A: The best strategy for ensuring successful long-term care is still patient empowerment and education. Aside from educating the patient and his or her family on the proper care of severe food-allergic responses, such as the use of an adrenaline auto-injector, which is the first line therapy in all anaphylaxis reactions. Patients and parents should be taught how to read and interpret product ingredient labels in order to avoid cross-contamination with known allergens during meal preparation. Individuals should be encouraged to wear a medical identity bracelet and to ask about allergy exposure when dining out. The most successful way to enhance patient care and benefits is to implement structured patient educational programs that involve different health professionals including allergy specialists, nurses, dietitians, psychologists, pharmacists, patient organizations, and the food sector.