Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies. According to a 2013 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), food allergies among children have increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011.
Some parents with young children may think that their children don't have food allergies because they have not exhibited any signs thus far. Unfortunately, a food allergy can begin at any age. It can even begin well into adulthood.
I have a friend who has a 10 year old daughter, and her daughter was recently diagnosed with a tree nut allergy. The girl has had food with tree nuts before and never had any problems or exhibited any allergic reactions.
One night, they were eating dinner at a local restaurant. After dinner, they ordered dessert. My friend's daughter ordered pie with walnuts on top. On the way home, my friend noticed that her daughter was making a noise with her throat like she was trying to clear her throat. My friend asked her if she was okay, and the daughter said she just had something stuck in her throat. However, the girl kept doing it and then started saying that her throat itched. She also told her mom that she didn't feel too well because she was having a hard time breathing. My friend was obviously alarmed and rushed her daughter to a hospital thinking that she was having some type of an allergic reaction.
At the hospital, my friend was told that her daughter was in fact having an allergic reaction, and the medical staff gave her Epinephrine. Thankfully, the girl was fine after that. Needless to say, my friend was a wreck but thankful that she was there when her daughter had an allergic reaction.
A few days later, my friend's daughter was tested, and the test confirmed that she has a tree nut allergy. This was a shock to my friend because her daughter had walnuts before and never had an allergic reaction. She asked the doctor why that was, and the doctor couldn't give her an answer. One theory is that she was always allergic to it, but perhaps on the night that she had an allergic reaction, she had an excessive amount of the walnuts which triggered the reaction.
In my friend's situation, thankfully she was with her daughter when she had the allergic reaction. It is important for parents who do not have kids with allergies to know the signs of an allergic reaction because they may develop an allergy when they get older.
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