Zinc for Allergies: Is It Effective?
The first thing I want to say is that there are many different types of allergies. There are allergenic foods, environmental triggers, and genetic ones. Most people have at least one type of allergy. Some people may even have several allergies.
So what does it mean if someone says they’re allergic to something?
They might actually just be sensitive to a small amount of the substance or chemical involved in the reaction (i.e. they’re not allergic to peanuts). Or maybe they’ve had a reaction to that specific substance before, but only after repeated exposure. In any case, these reactions aren’t life threatening. If you have allergies, you probably don’t need me telling you how important it is to eat certain foods because some of them contain ingredients that your body doesn’t like.
Food allergies are very common. About 20% of children ages 2–18 years old have been diagnosed with food allergies.
That’s about 1 out of every 10 kids! Food allergies affect both adults and children, so it makes sense that parents would worry about their child having a food allergy. And when parents do worry, they often turn to doctors for advice on which foods their kid should avoid or avoid certain foods altogether. The problem with this is that some doctors don’t have the most current or correct information. As a result, some parents are told their children should avoid foods that they shouldn’t.
What’s Wrong With Avoiding Foods?
In short, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with avoiding foods that you think your child is allergic to. But it can also cause problems. For example, there are only about 25 foods that actually cause allergic reactions in kids under 3 years old. Allergies are actually more common in older kids and adults. So it’s possible that your child is avoiding foods he might be able to handle just because the doctor has outdated information.
Food allergies cause reactions like hives, swelling, rashes, vomiting, wheezing, coughing, and even anaphylaxis. It’s easy to see how this would scare parents into believing that their kids should avoid certain foods.
But as I already mentioned, not all of these are life threatening. While anaphylaxis is an allergic reaction that can be life threatening, it only affects about 1% of children with food allergies. Vomiting, hives, and rashes are also common allergic reactions to foods, but they’re not generally regarded as being life threatening. Swelling and shortness of breath can be serious in certain situations, but it’s easy to treat these problems if you know what’s causing them.
The problem with avoiding certain foods is that you’re actually preventing your child from ever having a positive allergic reaction to them. If they never have a positive reaction, then they may very well outgrow their allergy!
So by avoiding certain foods, you’re actually preventing your kid from getting better. This is why complete food avoidance should only be done under the care of medical professionals. Unfortunately, some parents not only avoid foods, but they also give their child allergy medicines before they go into exposure.
Giving Kids Medicine Before Exposing Them
Giving kids medicine before exposing them is actually a pretty controversial subject. A little bit of controversy might be good for you.
It actually strengthens your immune system. But only a little bit. You don’t want to expose yourself to so much that your body can’t take it and gets used to it. But I’m getting a little bit off topic. Giving kids medicine before exposing them is something that some parents do to make sure that their kids have an allergic reaction. It’s sort of sadistic, I’ll admit, but it does ensure that your kid gets better. If they don’t get better, then it wasn’t really a food allergy.
But giving medicine before the exposure can cause problems as well. It can cause the opposite effect of what you’re going for.
If you give enough medicine, it can actually desensitize your child to future allergic reactions! This is why this method is used sparingly and only under a doctor’s care.
How Do I Know If My Child Should Avoid Foods?
If you think your child might have an allergy to a certain food(s), then you should consult with a doctor about having an evaluation done. The evaluation can be done through a food challenge or an allergy test.
A food challenge is just what it sounds like. The doctor will have your child eat a small amount of the suspected allergen and keep a close eye on them.
If they don’t react, then they can have more until they reach a certain point of exposure. This method is obviously completely safe, but the major drawback is that it can take several hours or even a whole day before getting results.
The allergy test is a little more direct and can be completed in a shorter amount of time. Usually, blood is drawn and sent to a lab for testing.
The results can usually be known within 24 hours, depending on the lab. However, allergy tests can be costly and might not always be accurate. They can also cause allergic reactions, although those are rare occurrences.
There are other methods of finding out if your child has an allery besides avoidance and exposure. Check out the other articles found on Kidshealth.org for a more in-depth look at some of these alternative procedures.
As a parent, it’s up to you and your doctor to decide which method is best for your child. Be sure to ask any questions you might have and don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel something isn’t right with the exposure or challenge process.
The most important thing is that your child gets better in the long run.
Allergy: A condition in which the body reacts negatively to a substance that would otherwise be harmless to most people.
Desensitization: The act of exposing someone to small amounts of an allergen in order to decrease a negative reaction.
Exercise Challenge: A test in which a patient works out and measures their respiratory flow before and after. If it increases, the patient is generally able to exercise without problem.
Food Challenge: A test in which a patient eats small bits of a certain food and monitors any reactions. If any occur, then the patient knows to avoid that food in the future.
Respiratory Flow: How much air one can exhale after taking in a deep breath. In an exercise challenge, this is measured before and after to see if it has increased, indicating the patient can exercise with minor symptoms at most.
The information obtained from this section will give you a good overview of what to expect for your child’s situation. However if you still feel uneasy, talk to your child’s doctor or another medical professional about your concerns.
Thanks for reading!
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