Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Unknown Food Allergies

Let's talk a little bit about our sweet Punkin. I have said that she had food allergies from the time that she was only a few weeks old. Here's why I suspected food allergies from the beginning:

  • She had incredibly dry skin. We're talking about very rough, sandpaper, flaky skin. My pediatrician was shocked when he saw her at her 2 month check up because her skin was so very dry and scaly.
  • She had eczema and red rashy skin. Bee was our original eczema baby and while Punkin's has never been as bad, she did have lots of red rashes (and still does).
  • And of course there's the tell-tale sign of hives. She's had outbreaks of hives multiple times. While hives can be caused by other things, I was fairly certain that these were food related.

So, to keep track of Punkin's allergic reactions I keep a food diary. I write down every time she has hives and what she ate that day. So far I haven't been able to confirm any patterns. However, I suspect that she has an issue with dairy and with nuts - specifically almonds.

Right now we can't be sure what she is allergic to. In fact, her allergy tests all came back negative when she was tested last year. But we know from personal experience that these tests are not always accurate, especially on young children. The most accurate way to determine a food allergy is through a food challenge. Of course, I'm not going to start feeding suspicious foods to Punkin to see if she has a reaction, but I can tell a few patterns after looking through our food journal.

While we usually eat only allergy-free foods in our house, there have been times when only Punkin has gone to dinner with us and tried a few regular foods. And there are a few hidden snacks in our house that are just for the parental figures. These snacks are not allergy free and are usually eaten late at night when Bee is not around to have any problems.

Not knowing what is causing a reaction is the most frustrating and scary part of being a food allergy parent. You want your kids to try new foods but you know that new foods could cause a problem. However, you have no idea which foods you should try and which foods might cause a reaction.

What can you do to help you discover the list of food allergies?

  • Keep a food journal - Write down everything that your child eats daily and how their skin looks and if they have any reactions.

  • Continue with allergy tests - While these are not always accurate, they do sometimes yield some helpful information.

  • Learn about food families - Knowing that Bee has an allergy to banana means that she's likely to also have an allergy to avocado and melons (which she does) because those are in the same family and are cross-reactive. 

  • Listen to your child - Often Bee will refuse to eat certain things and it is often because they make her feel unwell. She's a fairly good judge of things that bother her or might cause a problem. Sometimes I just have to trust her senses and intuition. 

There are many reactions that we've never pinpointed the cause. I try to write down everything I remember from the day of every reaction and keep a list, but it doesn't always become clear what food caused the reactions. I can just go off our past experiences and what our various allergy tests have shown. There is so much guesswork and intuition involved.

1 comment:

kristen said...

You are so right about listening to your child. My son has had seven food challenges, and the two that he failed he kept saying that the food tasted "yucky." I think that they have a sense for it.

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