Signs of Food Allergies & Senstivities

How will you know if your child is reacting to a particular food? Each child will react in a different way but there are common signs that you can look out for.

First, lets start with the more obvious reactions to food. A true food allergy will generally occur within minutes or up two hours after eating a reactive food. Since there is an immediate response it makes it much easier to identify a food allergy. With this type of an allergy the immune system sends out IgE antibodies in response to the offending food. These food allergies can be severe or life threatening (anaphylactic reaction),  but are rare, occurring in less than 1% of people. More common symptoms of a food allergy may include flushing of the face, hives, mild swelling of the face or eyes, trouble breathing, wheezing, congestion or vomiting. Some of the common foods that elicit this sort of a reaction include peanuts, shellfish, strawberries and eggs.

Food Sensitivity is a term that refers to a delayed reaction of the immune system to a particular food. These type of reactions are much more common but are a bit harder to find since the reaction is not immediate and may occur up to several days after consumption. There is some controversy in regards to the terminology used with this type of response. However, what is important is to know that the immune system can have a delayed response to a reactive food . These reactions are often associated with IgG or IgA antibodies. This can have a significant impact on our health and how our bodies function. It is quite true that our health and our immune system starts with our gut health. This type of response creates a lot of inflammation in the body and can cause a wide array of symptoms such as eczema, headaches, digestive upset (diarrhea/ constipation), asthma, joint pain, fatigue, fussiness or waking through the night (just to name a few).

A food intolerance is generally defined as a non-immune and a non-allergic adverse reaction to a food. Lactose intolerance would be an example of this, when the body lacks the enzyme (lactase) to break down and digest lactose.

Please see below for a list of the common symptoms of food allergies and sensitivities.

Skin Symptoms

  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Flushing
  • Swelling (Lips, face, eyes, throat)
  • Eczema
  • Rashes (can be anywhere but commonly around the mouth, anus, or diaper rash but can spread to entire body)
  • Dark circles under the eyes

Respiratory Symptoms

  • Congestion
  • Frequent coughing, sneezing & runny nose
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • Asthma

Digestive Symptoms

  • Stomach pain, or bloating (often with arching back or curling knees to chest in infants)
  • Colic in infants
  • Reflux
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Poor appetite
  • Poor weight gain/ growth

Behavioral & Neuromuscular Symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Waking throughout night
  • Hyperactivity
  • Painful muscles or Joints