Research Paper: Emotional and Social Effects of Food Allergies in Children and Teenagers

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Emotional and Social Effects of Food Allergies in Children and Teenagers

In case, a child has food allergies there are emotional repercussions that affect both the child and the mother. By definition, an allergy occurs when the immune system of the body is reacting against food substances, which it considers harmful to the body (Bursztyn 6-7). As a result, the immune system can cause harsh symptoms, which could be fatal. Some of these symptoms range from abdominal and rushes which can affect breathing system and ultimately cause anaphylactic shock. Food allergy can also affect a child's social life because a child will find it difficult to attend birthday parties, eat out at hotels and restaurants or even eat friends' homes (Bursztyn 6-7).

Food allergy also affects the parents of the child with food allergy. This is so because of the alarming increase of stress within home, constant increase of anxiety in trying to keep the child safe and above all that fear that parents have that their children health is in their hands (Bursztyn 16-19). This calls for caution on the side of parents because they have to ensure that the food children consume is safe for consumption. Adults that have food allergies find it hard to co-exist with their colleagues at work (Sheikh & Allison 23-29). People that have food allergies must be cautious enough not to come into contact with food allergens and also they must know how to cope with emotional problems that come along with food allergy (Bursztyn 16-19).

Consequences of food allergy

Bullying in regard to food allergy is the responsibility that children with food allergies have to bear by taking care of themselves medically. Reports reveal that about 25% of children become harassed, teased or bullied simply because of a food allergy (Sheikh & Allison 23-29). A lot of challenges encountered by these children in trying to manage their food allergies are inevitable. Some of these challenges cause mental distress (Bursztyn 16-19).

A survey conducted by Pediatrics revealed that at least 30% of kids with food allergies are victims of bullying about their allergies. Moreover, a recent study showed that kids with food allergy are more vulnerable to bullying than those without food allergies. Food sharing uses a social bond to bring people together, and people use it as a way of solving their differences and a way of portraying love to each other. Many religions among them being Islam, use food sharing as a way of increasing friendship status within the group. The consequences of an individual not taking part in these crucial social interactions are mostly felt by people with food allergies, especially children (Sheikh & Allison 23-29). This concept of food sharing helps in understanding social stigma associated with persons with food allergy. So how does food sharing for instance cause social stigma?

Children that have anaphylactic food allergies do experience social stigma during their time in public school. Many people are resistant when it comes to accommodating children with anaphylactic food allergies as it is difficult for them to take care of their needs. That is why it is exceedingly difficult for a kid with food allergy to get a boarding school, which is eager and able to take care of their needs and, therefore, these children take long before they get such a school. For instance, if a teacher brings cakes to the class as a way of appreciating one of the kids birthday, what would happen to this kid? Although the teacher will bring this kid other alternative gifts, this would still trigger social stigma because of the feeling that he is not part of the group, and every event of food sharing would remind this kid of his separateness. It would also act as a prompt that the teacher did not think he was good enough to be included.

Children with food allergies find themselves in a difficult social position where they try and stand their ground in resisting food from adults who try to give them food which is unsafe. This ultimately creates a division between them and other kids. Even though their parents try to bring food that can be shared by the entire group, the inability to reciprocate this by accepting food from other kids still creates stigma (Noimark and Helen 192). What if a parent of the allergic child brings multiple gifts of food to the group in an attempt to overcompensate? This will make other parents be resentful. This will create a no win situation as the resentment expresses an ostracism of children with allergy and their family.

Despite of this isolation when it comes to food sharing, kids with food allergies should internalize that food allergy is a fact in their life and, therefore, should get used to being on their own. However kids with multiple food allergies and are sensitive to the allergens are at a greater risk of stigmatization because the most prestigious precautions in their life seems unusual to many people.

Sicherer, a famous book writer, once said that a child with food allergies can do anything that a kid without food allergies does except eating food with allergens. So the key question arises as to how should both parents and teachers do to assist a kid with food allergies overcome the emotional side effects of food allergies? Parents for instance should control some of the exclusion at school by volunteering to share safe food and hugely support his or her child's self-initiative efforts. A teacher, on the other hand, can select non-food items for incentives and for class projects. Teachers can also enhance celebrations that pay more attention to activities rather than food items.

A parent who has a child without food allergies can assist a child with food allergy to fight social stigma by; sending non-food items for birthdays and holidays and also giving an opportunity to an allergic child to participate in a social event outside school. All these attempts will assist a child with food allergies in fighting social stigma. Parents should also have information and will enable them support and empower their kids towards allaying of fears (Sheikh & Allison 23-29). In addition to this, children with food allergy should know that food allergen is not an outright death sentence as it will have a notable impact on their lives and be an integral part of what shapes their character.

Diagnosis and treating food allergy

Persons that have a food allergy have sensitization to a certain type of foods and whenever exposed to allergens of such foods they show a reproducible immune response (Pastorello, et al. 5-7). However, effective treatment of food allergy is hugely dependent on accurate diagnosis. Without accurate diagnosis patients may end up avoiding foods which they are not allergic to or may end up consuming foods that could lead to harsh physical effects.

The requirements of accurate diagnosis of food allergy, needs a detailed physical examination of the patient, a medical history of that patient and finally a diagnostic testing. For a kid who is allergic to multiple food items, the diagnosis process must be detailed so as to capture a complete patient allergic profile. A child with food allergy needs a customized allergic diagnostic approach, having in mind the child's age, symptoms and the degree of allergic response. Depending on the symptoms and the nature of the allergen associated with the food allergy, a gastroenterologist dealing in food allergy will be in a good position for accurate diagnosis (Niggemann, et al. 1540). Children with complicated suspected food reactions need a diagnostic evaluation.

There is no available treatment for allergic patients. However, the only treatment is to completely avoid the food allergen. For instance, corticosteroids medication can only control symptoms but cannot eliminate the underlying allergy. To understand and comprehend the treatment and diagnosis of allergy, here is an example of a studied and treated allergy (Gordon 31-35).

Eosinophilic Esophagitis is an immune mediated disorder caused by one or more food antigens. The most common known symptoms of Eosinophilic Esophagitis are the pain of the gullet and difficulty in swallowing of food. The food items that cause this allergy are the cattle milk, soy and wheat. How does one know the presence of this disease? The symptoms of this disease are malnutrition in kids, vomiting in preschoolers and abdominal pain in adolescents (Gordon 31-35).

The most commonly used methodology for diagnosis of Eosinophilic Esophagitis is endoscopy with esophageal biopsy. Repeated endoscopies ascertain whether this allergy is present or not and by doing so this can cause a significant psychological and physical toll on pediatric patient. There have been numerous researches on finding the appropriate methodology to use on identifying the presence of this allergy (Gordon 31-35). Why have there been these researches? The aim of these researches was to discover biomarkers in the biological fluids such as saliva, urine and blood that can assist with diagnosis, assist in monitoring disease alteration and also assist in assessing therapy response.

Treatment… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Emotional and Social Effects of Food Allergies in Children and Teenagers."  Essaytown.com.  April 13, 2013.  Accessed June 17, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/emotional-social-effects-food-allergies/7532841.