Understanding Medical Problems

If Your Child Has An Asthma Attack After Eating, Contact An Allergist To Find The True Cause

Wheezing, coughing, difficulty breathing and a tight feeling in the chest are symptoms of an asthma attack in children. In children, it is not uncommon for these to occur after eating certain trigger foods. Dairy and egg are common triggers, but any food can potentially cause this response. Finding the true cause of your child's food-related asthma attacks is important for determining the correct course of treatment. Here's what you need to do if your child has an asthma attack after eating a trigger food.

Have Your Child Tested for Common Food Allergens

Schedule an appointment with an allergist for a skin prick test. A skin prick test introduces common allergens to your child's skin and checks for an allergic reaction. This test determines if your child is truly allergic to these foods or if your child's respiratory symptoms have a different cause.

Begin Early Treatment for Your Child's Allergies, if Necessary

You should avoid foods that cause your child to have an allergic reaction until a skin prick test is performed. However, you should not attempt to modify your child's diet permanently without determining the underlying cause of the asthmatic reaction. Growing children need to eat a balanced diet to ensure that they receive enough nutrients.

Treatments for allergy-induced asthma include medication and allergy shots. Medication can decrease your child's response to allergens, making it less likely he or she will have a negative reaction to the allergy-causing foods. Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, slowly acclimate your child's body to the allergen. By introducing increasingly larger amounts of an allergen to your child's body, it becomes less sensitive to the allergen. The process can take up to five years.

Determine Other Potential Sources of Food-Related Asthma Attacks

Your child may have an asthma attack after eating certain foods without being allergic to them. That's why allergen testing is important – it eliminates an allergy as a potential cause of the asthma attack.

Some food additives, such as sulfites, are known to trigger asthma in children and adults. These are preservatives added to reduce spoilage and protect flavor. They are commonly found in fruit juice. Salicylates are another potential asthma trigger – they're present naturally in some foods such as tomatoes and cucumbers, but are also added to many health and beauty products. If your child has a reaction to additives, it's important to read labels carefully in order to avoid them.

When your child has an asthma attack after eating food, schedule an appointment with an allergist, such as at North Texas Allergy, to determine if the cause is allergy-related or additive-related and determine a course of treatment. Allergic reactions are sometimes progressive – what may cause a mild asthmatic reaction now may cause deadly anaphylactic shock in the future. Knowing the true cause early will help you determine how to manage your child's food allergies.