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1: What is causing my child's symptoms?
The 8 most common allergens in the US are: Eggs Peanuts Tree nuts-think walnuts, almonds etc. Milk(Casein) Fish Shellfish Soy-This is a bean. The allergy can be just to the soy bean protein, or to all legumes/beans &/or peas. Wheat
These are not the only things a child can be allergic to. Corn is another highly allergenic food, preservatives and dyes can also be allergenic.
If you aren't sure what is causing your child's symptoms, many parents have found it very helpful to keep a food vs. symptoms diary. This involves writing down every item your child eats/drinks, and documenting symptoms. Then, going back and looking at it, you try to find correlations between certain foods and symptoms. If you choose to do this, many people also find it helpful to keep the nutrition/ingredient labels off of those foods so that you can look for common ingredients in the suspected foods.
2: How do I find out what my child is allergic to?
In some cases, keeping the diary is enough to figure out what particular food is causing a problem. If you do notice a specific pattern, then eliminate that food from your child's diet and see if the symptoms go away. If they do, then you have your answer.
However, it is not always that easy. This is a time to take the diary and what you've noticed going on with your child to your pediatrician. He/she may be able to figure out what's going on, or may give you a referral to a pediatric allergist. The allergist is a great place to start, especially if you are at a complete loss for what's going on with your child. The allergist will likely order at least 1 of the 2 most common tests, either a skin/patch test, or a RAST/blood test. They each have pro's and con's, so you should definately ask questions to decide which one you would prefer and feel most comfortable with. Here is some more info on the testing. Food Allergy Diagnosis - Food Allergy Testing - Diagnosis of Food Allergies www.webmd.com/allergies/allergy-tests
This site has a test that will help prepare you to talk your child's doctor about possible allergies, it is basically a reaction evaluator. Find it here: Allergic Emergency Evaluator: Triggers
3: Do I need to carry an epi-pen for my child?
This is another ask your doctor thing. But generally, if your child's reaction did not include hives, trouble breathing, swelling of the face or hands or itching, you will not need an epi-pen.
4:What if I DO need to carry an epi-pen? When do I know to use it?
Your doctor, or pharmacist, should give you a guide on when to use the epi-pen. Remember that if you ever do have to use the pen, that it is NOT a cure-all, and your child still needs to be seen by a doctor, either in the office or take a trip to the ER. Epi-pen's simply buy you the time to get there. The general guidelines are 2 or more of the symptoms addressed in question 3. Here is some more info on when/how to use an epi-pen. www.epipen.com
Last edited by Jennmarie; July 1st, 2010 at 08:18 AM.