How Food Allergies Can Create A Toddler Melt-Down

Toddlerhood is a period of time that is marked by increased curiosity, speed and energy in most children. Toddlers start to gain new skills and establish a marked independence. Temper tantrums are par for the course during the toddler years, but if allergies are the cause of them, it is well worth it to do a bit of investigating to find out the culprit. Allergies can be annoying, life threatening and everything in between. If they are the cause of your toddler’s melt-downs, figuring out what to avoid can make life a lot easier.

Allergic Reactions

When the body’s immune system has an adverse reaction to a normally innocent substance such as a particular food, dust, pollen or fur, this is an allergy. Some common symptoms can include itchiness, red eyes, sneezing, hives and rashes. Allergens can cause breathing, intestinal or skin problems.

In a toddler, these symptoms can be amplified by a complete melt-down because when toddlers are uncomfortable or in pain, they simply don’t have the ability to deal with their discomfort as an adult would.

Common Allergens

Some of the most common food allergens are milk, wheat, corn, soy, egg whites, tree nuts and shellfish. Peanuts have become such a hazard that many schools and daycare centers have become peanut-free zones.

Even a small amount of an allergen in your allergic toddler can cause a complete melt-down. A normally mild-mannered child can quickly go from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. The author’s own young son was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and it was recommended that he go on medical treatment, until they discovered through a different doctor that he is actually allergic to gluten! He was saved not only from the stigma of ADHD but also from strong, potentially dangerous medication.

Allergy Diagnosis

An allergist can diagnose allergies in your toddler using skin tests. These tests will show if your toddler is having a reaction to a particular substance. The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 4.5 percent of children have a food allergy and nearly 11 percent have a skin allergy. They also say that almost 17 percent of all children under the age of 18 have a respiratory allergy. Sometimes, it’s easy to figure out that your toddler has allergies. If a parent suffers from allergies, it may follow that the child may, too. But sometimes, it can be difficult to figure out what’s going on.

Allergies and Colds

Some allergy symptoms and run-of-the-mill seasonal cold symptoms are similar.
• Breathing through the mouth
• Constantly sneezing and/or coughing
• Constantly rubbing eyes or nose

Others symptoms are more allergy specific:
• Dark circles underneath the eyes
• Constantly rubbing ears
• Ears turning red and/or becoming dry and cracked without touching them

Symptoms with a fever are likely to be a viral cold and not an allergy. Duration of the symptoms is important also. A cold will wind down after, at maximum, a couple of weeks, but allergies won’t go away at all as long as the allergen is present.

If you suspect that your toddler has allergies, it’s recommended to head over to your local allergist for a simple skin test. Knowing what allergies your toddler has may put a stop to many melt-downs. But don’t expect them to disappear completely!

About the Author

Sally Caruthers, a nutritional consultant and content contributor to achooallergy.com also suggests those with allergies try an IQ Air Purifier with hospital grade Hepa filters.