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Food intolerances in children and adolescents

26 December 2022

What is food intolerance?

Food intolerance is an adverse reaction to a food or ingredient that does not involve the immune system. It can cause symptoms such as nausea, abdominal pain, headaches and gas. Food intolerances can be difficult to diagnose due to their wide range of presentations and the lack of reliable laboratory tests available for diagnosis. Symptoms may occur immediately after eating or within hours after eating the food.

What are the symptoms of food intolerance?

Symptoms of food intolerance can vary greatly from person to person, but some common signs include digestive issues such as bloating, cramps and diarrhea; skin reactions such as rashes or hives; headaches; fatigue; and respiratory problems. It is important to note that food intolerances usually do not cause anaphylaxis like a true food allergy does.

What are common food intolerances?

Common food intolerances include lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance and sensitivity to certain additives such as MSG. Lactose intolerance is the most common food intolerance, affecting approximately 65% of people worldwide. Gluten sensitivity affects an estimated 18 million Americans and can cause a range of digestive issues from mild discomfort to severe gastrointestinal symptoms.

How is food intolerance diagnosed?

Diagnosis of food intolerance typically involves a combination of medical history, diet diary, and elimination diets. A healthcare provider may also recommend laboratory testing or breath tests to help diagnose a food sensitivity. It is important for children and adolescents with suspected food intolerances to be seen by a physician who can better assess the situation and provide proper care.

What causes food intolerances?

The exact cause of food intolerances is not fully understood, but they are thought to be caused by the body's inability to break down certain components of food. This can lead to an accumulation of substances in the digestive system that can irritate the gut and trigger symptoms. In some cases, environmental factors such as stress or certain medications may also play a role in triggering food intolerances.

What treatments are available for food intolerances?

Treatment of food intolerances typically involves avoiding the offending foods. A healthcare provider can help identify and eliminate the problem foods and provide guidance on how to reintroduce them into the diet in a healthy way. In addition, medications such as antihistamines or probiotics may be prescribed to help with symptoms.

It is important for parents of children and adolescents with food intolerances to work closely with their healthcare provider in order to create an individualized treatment plan that best meets their needs.

What is dietician therapy for food intolerances?

Dietician therapy is a type of nutritional counseling that can help to identify food sensitivities in children and adolescents. Through this process, a dietitian will work with the patient to create an individualized nutrition plan tailored to their needs. This may include eliminating offending foods from the diet or introducing them back into it in a safe way. Dietician therapy can also help to identify the triggers of food intolerances and provide recommendations on how to manage them.

What financial support is available for children with food intolerances in Australia?

In Australia, there are a number of government-funded programs available to help children with food intolerances. The Department of Human Services provides financial assistance through the Medicare Safety Net and the Child Dental Benefits Schedule. In addition, many private health insurers offer coverage for food intolerance testing and treatment. Lastly, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provides support for families of children with food intolerances to help cover costs associated with diagnosis and treatment.

How do I look after myself and my family?

It is important to be proactive in dealing with food intolerances. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and avoiding processed foods can help manage symptoms and prevent flare-ups. Additionally, it is important for families of children with food intolerances to create an individualized plan that meets the needs of the entire family. This may include allergen-free options, as well as strategies on how to manage stress and emotional eating. Lastly, it is important for families to seek medical advice from a qualified healthcare professional if any symptoms persist or worsen.

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