Allergies can occur in people of all ages, including teenagers. Some people think that allergies only appear in children or adults, but they can start at any age. Teenagers can also experience a wide range of symptoms, along with allergy sufferers of all ages. If you suspect your teenager may have Las Vegas allergies, contact a specialist for a diagnosis, allergy testing, and treatment.
How Common are Food Allergies?
About 8% of children in the US have food allergies. That translates to about two students in each class or one in 13 children. Regardless of the substance that causes the allergy, food allergies occur if the body has an immune system response to certain foods. If it’s a true allergic reaction, a teenager will have the same response to the same food repeatedly. Although most people can eat food that causes allergies without a problem, that is not the case with allergy sufferers. Someone with an allergic reaction can have symptoms from mild to severe when their immune system reacts to an allergen.
What are the Most Common Allergens?
These are the common eight allergens in the US:
- Crustacean shellfish
- Tree nuts
Some allergies, such as a shellfish allergy, tend to develop later on in teenagers and adults, and it is typically an allergy that sticks around for life. Others, such as peanut allergies, may become less severe over time. Children diagnosed with peanut allergies may even lose their allergies when they get older.
Food Allergy Signs and Symptoms
Food allergies produce numerous symptoms, such as:
- Difficulty breathing
- Tight throat
- Gastrointestinal (GI) issues
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Hives and skin reaction
- Anaphylaxis shock
Allergy symptoms can range from mild and irritating to life-threatening. Anaphylactic shock is the most serious allergic reaction, and requires fast treatment with epinephrine to prevent the patient from having a life-threatening emergency.
How are Food Allergies Diagnosed?
An allergy doctor in Las Vegas can diagnose food allergies. An allergist can test for a teenager’s food allergy in a few different ways. A skin prick test is the most common allergy test. For this test, an allergist lightly scratches the skin’s surface and then applies a small amount of the suspected allergen to the skin. This test is usually done on the skin of the back or arm. After applying the substance to the skin, the doctor will wait a few minutes to see if a reaction develops.
Other allergy tests may be performed in addition to the skin test. A teenager’s allergist may also recommend a blood test. Blood tests are usually reserved for cases where a skin prick test or a food challenge would not be safe. The blood test will show whether or not the teenager has antibodies to the particular substance in question.
A third form of allergy testing is called a food challenge. In this test, the teenager consumes a small amount of food that they think may be causing allergies. The teenager will eat the food in question in front of his or her allergist so that the doctor can watch for symptoms to develop. The procedure is always performed at the doctor’s office or a hospital so that the patient has access to medical care in case of a more severe reaction. While a food challenge can be used to diagnose an allergy, it can also be used to help determine if a food allergy no longer exists.
Treatment for Food Allergies
Food allergies cannot be cured, but an allergist can help manage symptoms. In some cases, an allergist may be able to provide medications that can help alleviate allergy symptoms. Medication for food allergies ranges from over-the-counter medications like Benadryl, which helps with milder symptoms like itchy eyes and sneezing, to epinephrine, an injectable allergy medication reserved for times when a teenager has a more serious allergic reaction.
Avoiding Allergy Exposure
When it comes to allergies, avoiding an allergen is optimal, as it prevents an allergic reaction in the first place. Parents can help their children by creating a food plan for when their child is in and out of school. The in-school food plan should also be distributed to the appropriate school officials, including the teenager’s teachers. If food is prepared and served at school, the teenager’s instructors should provide allergy-safe foods, or your child can bring safe foods from home. School officials should also be prepared to handle an allergy-related emergency, including knowing how to administer a dose of epinephrine. At home, it is usually easier to have an allergy-free and safe environment for your teenager. As a parent, you can take simple measures such as avoiding cross-contamination, reading labels, and even keeping an allergen out of the home. The teenager’s allergy information should also be provided to the family, so everyone knows how to avoid an allergic reaction.
Engage Your Teen in Allergy Management
For parents, managing allergies in teenagers have slightly different considerations compared to managing allergies in younger children. Teenagers are older and tend to be out and about more, so they can and should take more responsibility for managing their allergies. At appointments, teenagers should be encouraged to raise any questions with their Las Vegas allergist. If they want to do their own research online to learn more about their allergy and how to manage it, you can provide them with helpful and credible resources designed for teenagers, such as the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).
Along with the family and school officials, your teenager’s friends should also be aware of your child’s allergy and know how to respond in case of a severe reaction. Chances are good that your child may be with their friends when an allergic reaction occurs, so it is essential that your teenager’s friends know about the allergy risk, how to avoid it, and how to manage it if symptoms develop. If they are educated on your teenager’s allergies, friends won’t consider responding to allergy management a big deal.
Unlike younger children, teenagers may be in certain social situations that require them to know how to manage their allergies and make others aware of their allergies. Going out to restaurants, for instance, can be a challenge for teenagers with food allergies. Teenagers can inform the restaurant staff of their allergies when they arrive or call ahead to inquire about safe options for their allergies. Your teenager should also carry allergy medication to the restaurant in case of a problem.
Issues surrounding allergies and dating are another important topic of conversation. Your teenager should be aware that even if they don’t consume an allergen themselves, kissing a partner who has consumed the allergen several hours earlier can trigger an allergic reaction. Allergy-safe meals and dining facilities are an important topic of conversation for your child and their date.
If your teen needs assistance with Las Vegas allergies, contact Dr. Tottori, a specialist who can help with allergies and asthma. You can make an appointment at Tottori Allergy and Asthma by calling (702) 240 4233 or by scheduling an appointment online.