An estimated 1 in 13 kids in the U.S. has a food allergy. Even if your family isn’t allergic to anything, it’s important for all children to learn about food allergies. Allergic reactions can be life-threatening, and everyone—adults and children included—should know how to identify the symptoms of a food allergy emergency. Teach your children about food allergies so they know how to help themselves or others who may need immediate medical assistance.
What Are Food Allergies?
A food allergy is an abnormal immune system response to certain foods. Common food allergens include peanuts, shellfish, wheat, and dairy. Symptoms range from rashes and stomach aches to more dangerous reactions, such as difficulty breathing. A severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, is sudden and can be deadly.
Explaining Food Allergies to a Child
When explaining food allergies to a child, use the terms “safe foods” and “unsafe foods.” If a child with an allergy eats an “unsafe food,” she can get very sick. After eating it, she may feel uncomfortable or get itchy, swollen lips. If she starts having trouble talking or breathing, get help right away. Immediately find a teacher, parent, or adult and tell them to call 9-1-1.
Kids Will Be Kids, Teach Them to Be Kind
A child with allergies may wear a medical ID necklace or bracelet. She may have to eat her lunch in a different room or follow other cautious procedures. Talk with your children about why teasing others with food allergies is wrong. Explain the importance of keeping certain foods away from those with allergies.
When it comes to children with food allergies, we all must do our part to follow food safety procedures and stay vigilant. If you see someone displaying the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, take action. Locate your nearest Baylor St. Luke’s Emergency Center.