Food Sensitivity Symptoms
Allergic reactions to food tend to jump out at you and be easy to spot. Sensitivities, though, escalate over time and are much harder to pinpoint. It’s easy to get the two confused, too. (Want a more in depth comparison, read this.) Food sensitivities are subtle but just as unpleasant and dangerous. Understanding the symptoms can help parents spot common food intolerances in kids.
Food Allergy vs Food Sensitivity
An allergy means there is an immune system response to the food causing inflammation like hives or skin rashes and even difficulty breathing. Food sensitivities have no immune system response, so the symptoms appear over time. They also may not happen every time a child eats that food.
Lactose intolerance, for example, is a sensitivity to milk and other kinds of dairy. Children who are lactose intolerant can sometimes ingest some milk without having a reaction. Why? This particular sensitivity is the result of a missing enzyme, one that allows them to fully lactose. A little bit of milk not completely broken down doesn’t cause a severe enough reaction for you to notice.
Food allergies can be immediately life-threatening. Food sensitivities, on the other hand, take longer to resolve and may cause problems over time like damage to the intestines. Both food allergies and sensitivities require your child to avoid eating certain foods like milk, peanuts, soy or wheat to avoid getting the symptoms.
It is not always easy to tell what food is causing the reaction, though. Many parents use an elimination diet to see what foods might be lead to symptoms that indicate a sensitivity. The key to making that work is being able to identify the symptoms.
Common Food Sensitivity Symptoms in Children
The symptoms of a food sensitivity vary based on what’s causing it, but there are some common factors to consider. The most obvious is a stomach ache. Food intolerances mean your child has trouble digesting something and that leaves them with an upset stomach and other digestive issues like:
- Irritable bowels
- Unexplained weight loss
- Failure to thrive
The symptoms don’t stop there, though. Kids with food sensitivities can also develop behavioral problems and developmental issues like:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- ADHD or difficulty focusing
- Bed wetting
Some reactions mimic a food allergy by producing symptoms like:
- Skin irritations
- Joint and muscle pain
The variety of symptoms make figuring out if your child is sensitive to food a bit of a guessing game. Once you do identify the trigger food causing the reaction, there are things you can do to help them adjust.
Learning to Live with Food Sensitivities
If your child has dietary limitations, it can be hard for them. Finding ways to help them cope will make the transition easier. For example:
- Get your child involved in finding out what food is causing the problem. Make a game out of the elimination diet so it’s fun.
- Make sure the whole family all eats the same foods.
- Look for new, fun recipes to support the diet change.
- Educate teachers and caregivers, so they are aware of the sensitivity, too. This way there is no accidental exposure to a trigger food.
Food sensitivities are not fun no matter what your age. For kids, though, it’s a real blow to find out you are different in any way. Figuring out what is causing the symptoms is the first step in making food sensitivities easier for kids.
Ready to get tested? Schedule a complimentary food sensitivity consultation today! At BackFit Health, we can do an entire food panel with just a finger prick.