Symptoms and causes

What is it?

A food allergy is an adverse reaction that the immune system has to certain, generally safe, food proteins (allergens), such as cow's milk, soy, eggs, nuts, kiwi, etcetera. One of every thirteen children have a food allergy at the age of 1. This falls to 2-34% of children at 6 years old and then remains a fairly stable percentage in older children.

A food allergy is not a food intolerance.

The terms 'food allergy' and 'food intolerance' are often used interchangeably. When there is an allergy, the body react to a food protein. When there is an intolerance, the body reacts to sugars (e.g. lactose, or milk sugar). Often, patients who have an intolerance can still digest small quantities of sugars. The symptoms also differ in type. With an intolerance, the symptoms are never life-threatening (in contrast to an allergic reaction).

Symptoms

There is a diverse variety of reactions, which may include skin, respiratory, oral, throat, stomach or intestinal symptoms. The severity of the reaction depends on the type of allergen, as well as the method of preparation and quantity consumed. Sometimes even just traces of the allergen can lead to a reaction.

Diagnosis and treatment

Diagnosis

  • extensive anamnesis and clinical research
  • If necessary, additional testing with skin tests and blood draws, performed by our paediatric nurse.
  • discussion of the results and creating a customised treatment plan

Treatment

  • counseling with our nutritionist
  • information and demonstration on the use of medication
  • information sessions on anaphylaxis

information sessions on anaphylaxis

We also offer anaphylaxis information sessions for parents, grandparents, child caretakers, teachers and other care providers responsible for the daily care of a child who has a dangerous food allergy, as well as for adolescents who have a high risk for anaphylaxis.

Recognising and treating an anaphylactic reaction properly are discussed extensively during these information sessions. We hope that education, along with greater awareness, will also help reduce anxiety and fear.

Treatment centres and specialisations

Paediatrics

Latest publication date: 05/02/2021
Supervising author: Dr Degraeuwe Jelle