May is Food Allergy Awareness month, and we would like to take this opportunity to educate everyone about raising kids with food allergies.
Having a kid with allergies of any kind is scary to say the least. Food allergies are comparatively scarier because we can’t always be on the lookout and know what our kids are eating. It is quite overwhelming and challenging, and parents really could do with the misperceptions that people have.
We live in a social society that calls for mutual respect and understanding. It is all the more required when it comes to parenting children with difficulties and allergies. Let’s take a look at a few assumptions and misperceptions about allergies:
Assumption 1: It is nothing to worry about
It makes parents crazy when people assume that allergies are common and don’t need all the fuss. In reality, allergies are life-threatening and extremely scary. So, let’s not judge or decide how something should be perceived or taken. Allergies are real and dangerous. Period.
Assumption 2: Allergies and intolerance are the same
Parents of kids with allergies and doctors will respectfully disagree. Allergies trigger anaphylaxis whereas intolerance does not. There is also sensitivity to a few foods, which means that consuming some foods can cause inconveniences such as headaches. However, sensitivity and intolerance are not life-threatening.
Assumption 3: Only peanut allergies are severe
All allergies are severe, whether it is peanut, soy, shellfish, milk, or wheat.
Assumption 4: Food allergies are caused due to unhealthy lifestyle
This myth stems from the belief that artificial flavors and colors in food cause allergies. While a few additives may cause problems but allergies are usually protein related. Moreover, additive allergies are very rare.
Assumption 5: Food allergies will never go away
Actually, a few parents of kids with food allergies also believe this. Only a few allergies last forever such as peanuts and shellfish. Other allergies usually fade away with age. Kids who are allergic to milk may not be allergic to it later on in life.
Assumption 6: Giving kids common allergens during pre-school years causes allergies
This has been debated quite a few times over the years, and recent research has revealed that giving kids allergens during their early formative years could protect them. For example, if your child is at high peanut allergy risk, he/she may be given peanut protein at 5 months. It is important to be very careful, though, and to do this under the supervision of a pediatrician.
Assumption 7: Hives indicate low/zero severity
A patch of hives upon consuming an allergen doesn’t mean the child will be fine and does not need extra care. It is hives now, but it could be a full-blown allergic reaction the next time around.
Parents of kids with allergies struggle every day with constant fear about their children’s safety. Let’s be supportive, especially by not trivializing what they are going through.