Does Your Child Have Undiagnosed Food Allergies?

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From tummy troubles and congestion to mysterious rashes and fatigue: your child might have undiagnosed food allergies that you don’t know about.

Undiagnosed food allergies or intolerances happen more often than we’d like to think. Most people know how to identify a major allergic reaction like anaphylaxis, but what about the less urgent symptoms that you might be brushing off?


According to Allergy UK, sometimes an allergy can’t be confirmed with a blood test because everyone’s immune system reacts differently. Some people simply experience slower reactions, resulting in minor reactions — like diarrhea — rather than a sudden bout of hives or anaphylaxis.

Ignoring minor reactions or blaming them on something else (“I think she’s coming down with the flu …”) could set your child up for a much more serious reaction down the road.

Allergy UK’s Clinical Director, Maureen Jenkins, says “for every child that is diagnosed [with a food allergy] there is at least one other who is not.”

Do you think your child might have undiagnosed food allergies? Here are a few things to watch out for … 

  • Bad stuff in the bathroom: If your child suffers from diarrhea, cramps, nausea, gas, bloating or excessive belching after they eat, they might have food allergies or sensitivities that aren’t on your radar. It could also be a sign of lactose intolerance (which is very different from a milk allergy).
  • Not enough happening in the bathroom: Food sensitivities can also have the opposite effect and cause chronic constipation.
  • Joint pain: This is a surprising one, but if your child has brief joint or muscle pain (or sustained inflammation) after eating, it could be an allergic reaction or sensitivity to something they’ve eaten. It may also be a nutritional deficiency.
  • Fatigue: Yeah, sometimes kids are just tired and cranky from prolonging bedtime and whining for another drink of water long after they should have been asleep. But fatigue can also caused by eating something that’s upsetting their system.
  • Rash/Hives: Even if it’s a small patch, hives are a sign that something your child ingested (or applied) is making their body mad.
  • Congestion: It’s a myth that only environmental allergies (pollen = the enemy) can make a person sneezy — food can also be the culprit. Watch out for irritated sinuses and difficulty breathing.
  • Itching/tingling/numbness in or around the mouth: This can be the gateway to anaphylaxis, so take it seriously. If your child reports that their tongue has a funny itchy feeling, their lips feel weird, or any part of their mouth just doesn’t feel right, keep a close eye on them while you seek medical attention.

H/T Allergy UK

Heather Laura Clarke, a contributing writer at Scratch or Sniff, lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, with her high-school sweetheart husband, seven-year-old son, and five-year-old daughter. She writes for newspapers and magazines across Canada and the U.S., and blogs about her family life at Heather's Handmade Life. Follow her adventures on Twitter or Instagram.

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