5 signs your child may have a food allergy

Signs your child may have a food allergy can be varied from digestive upset and skin rashes to life-threatening anaphylaxis



Signs and symptoms of food allergies in children typically begin at an early age (within their first 2 years), although they can appear later in life. The symptoms are typically acute, although food allergens can exacerbate other conditions. 

Discover what a food allergy is here.

5 signs your child may have a food allergy 

Food allergy symptoms can affect the stomach, skin, airways or entire body. Some will occur on their own and others in combination.

Some food allergy symptoms, such as localised swelling around the mouth that appears after eating, offer greater clues to what the allergen is.

Whereas, in some cases, the symptoms can occur hours after consumption and can be generalised. Flare-ups of chronic eczema anywhere on the body, for example, can be triggered by a food allergy.

If you are concerned your child may have a food allergy, take a look at these 5 common signs

1. Digestive Upset

Persistent vomiting and diarrhoea can be symptoms your child may have a food allergy. This can be a response of either a IgE mediated reaction or a non-IgE response. Other gastrointestinal symptoms of a food allergy include nausea, cramping, tummy pain or mucous in the child’s poo.

2. Skin Reactions (baby centre)

Skin rashes and eczema are one of the first signs of an allergic picture amongst children and can be associated with a IgE or non-IgE meditated reactions. It can appear in children even just a few weeks old. Other symptoms of the skin are itchy rash, swelling or hives.

Skin reactions can appear where the food has come into direct contact such as around the mouth or appear more generalised. 

3. Respiratory system reactions

Respiratory system symptoms that indicate your child may have a food allergy include coughing, wheezing, trouble breathing, sneezing congestion or nose. It may be hard to distinguish wheezing and shortness of breath from asthma or a food allergy. Likewise, symptoms of a runny nose and nasal blockage could be symptoms of a food allergy or a common cold or viral illness.

If your child doesn’t have asthma or a virus, a food allergy may be to blame.

4. Failure to thrive

Poor weight gain, inhibited growth or failure to thrive in infants can occur in non-IgE food allergies of the gastrointestinal system. This is considered to be related to inflammation of the gut caused and malabsorption of nutrients.

Severe dietary restrictions to avoid suspected food allergens can also cause failure to thrive in children. If you believe your child’s growth is compromised, speaking with a nutritionist for dietary guidance could help prevent long-term consequences.

5. Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is the most severe and life-threatening symptom of a food allergy and is usually a response to peanuts or shellfish. It can occur within minutes of common into contact with food to up to two hours.

In an anaphylactic reaction, multiple systems are involved. Rapid swelling occurs in the affected tissues, smooth muscles that line the airways and intestines contract and there is a drop in blood pressure.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis can vary and can occur in combination. These include:

  • Difficulty breathing or wheezing

  • Swelling of face, throat or skin

  • Feeling faint or dizzy

  • Pail complexion

  • Diarrhoea

  • Loss of conscious

If your child experiences anaphylactic symptoms is vital you call 000 immediately as this is a life-threatening reaction. 


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