I live in the Bedfordshire countryside with my toddler, husband, cat and dog. I work as a journalist and writing trainer and love to bake, travel and play outside with my boys. I also write a blog about living with allergies including lots of recipes (www.freefromfarmhouse.co.uk)
What are IGE mediated food allergies?
IgE mediated food allergies are when the body recognises a food protein as a foreign invader and tries to fight it off by making an antibody (IgE). The immune system releases histamine and this causes a range of symptoms.
What symptoms distinguish food allergies from other conditions?
Symptoms happen immediately or within minutes of the food being eaten or in some cases just touched or the proteins inhaled from the air.
Symptoms can include:
- Hives – an itchy raised red rash
- Swelling of lips and eyes
- Itchy tongue or throat
In severe reactions these can lead to further symptoms of anaphylaxis which is very serious and can be life threatening.
- Severe vomiting
- Breathing difficulties
- Loss of blood pressure
Tell us about your road to diagnosis
My son had severe eczema from a few months old and was very restless, upset and slept poorly. We now believe this was from his allergies through my breastmilk but at the time we were told this wasn’t possible.
When I started weaning him he began to have reactions to food and he also came out in hives when I touched him after handling walnuts. Soon after, I gave him hummus and he immediately developed hives all over his body and started vomiting. This is when we knew for sure that he had food allergies. We were referred for skin prick testing which showed he was allergic to milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, garlic and cod.
At 15 months old he took a sip from another child’s bottle of milk and had an anaphylactic reaction where his airways closed up and it sounded like there was something stuck in his throat. We had to use the epipen for the first time and call an ambulance. This is when we realised the severity of his allergies.
How is your child’s condition managed?
The only way to manage food allergies is by strict avoidance of all the foods he is allergic too. We currently avoid any ‘may contain’ labels as well and are very strict about cross contamination because of the severity of his reactions. For a mild reaction we use antihistamine and for severe ones we use an epipen and carry these with us at all times. An important part of managing his condition is educating friends, family and caregivers so we have a support team who can also watch over him and make sure things are allergen free. It is especially hard when we are out of the house as toddler groups, eating out and even other people’s homes pose lots of risks.
What would you like to say to a parent searching for a diagnosis?
If your child is having a reaction immediately after eating a food then it is likely to be an IgE mediated allergy. Stop giving them the food and ask your GP for a referral for testing. If you are unsure which ingredient they are reacting to then try them individually by testing a small amount on the inside of their wrist and if there is no reaction, feeding them a small amount. Have some antihistamine to hand. Do not do this if they have had a severe reaction.
If you are breastfeeding your child and they have severe eczema, colic or reflux then keep a food diary to see if they are reacting to something you are eating. You can then try an elimination diet to see if their symptoms improve but this is best done under a dietician.
Follow your instinct and push for help and testing. We had to change doctor and be very persistent to get the answers we needed. It can be scary and overwhelming but try to connect with other parents dealing with the same thing.
Can you suggest some useful links and resources?
Facebook Support Groups
- Allergy Buddies
- CAN (for children with food allergies and issues)