Many people act surprised when I tell them that my son has a life threatening egg allergy. I’m often asked how I figured out about Nick’s allergy. Food allergies can be shown through many different symptoms, so it’s important to know how to recognize a food allergy.
There are six systems of the body that can show an allergic reaction. They are the mouth, throat, skin, stomach, lungs, and heart. You only need a reaction in one of these places to be considered allergic to a certain food. The most common symptoms that you want to look for are hives, an itchy rash (or just plain itching), swelling, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. It is important to remember that these are the more common and basic allergic reactions. Many of them will point out an allergy, but most are just uncomfortable and not life threatening. With a severe reaction you’re looking for coughing, trouble breathing, wheezing, a drop in blood pressure, and/or a loss of consciousness.
Here’s a more focused look at the six systems that show allergic reactions and the symptoms that can occur at each:
- The Mouth: You’re looking for itching and swelling of the lips or possibly the tongue or mouth.
- The Throat: You’re looking for itching and/or a sense of tightness in the throat. There can also be swelling, hoarseness, and a hacking cough.
- The Skin: You’re looking for hives, an itchy rash, redness, and/or swelling about the face and other areas
- The Stomach: You’re looking for nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.
- The Lungs: You’re looking for shortness of breath, repetitive coughing, and/or wheezing.
- The Heart: You’re looking for a “thready” pulse and/or passing out.
Most allergic reactions will occur within minutes of eating the allergy-causing food, but they can still be present two to four hours later. Any of the symptoms listed above are possible. You can never predict which symptoms will occur or how severe they will be. Likewise the severity of the symptoms can quickly change. The symptoms that are most likely to become life threatening are those in the throat, lungs, and heart. Should allergic reactions occur in any of those places medical attention should be sought immediately.
I’ll admit I didn’t immediately realize that Nick was having an allergic reaction to the scrambled egg. He was coughing, but he had been doing that for days due to a past cold. It wasn’t until the hives broke out that I was sure of an allergic reaction. Then I just gave him some Benadryl and kept my eye on him. I really should have taken him to the ER, but I didn’t know enough at the time to know that I should do that. I hope that this post is helpful and it helps prepare you for the possibility of noting an allergic reaction.
Were you able to quickly spot a food allergy with yourself or your child?