Davis said that researchers also are testing herbal formulations and that one particular combination of nine herbs was able to prevent a serious allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, in mice. "It's another one of the treatments that may be up-and-coming," she said, though there's no evidence in humans yet.
What has been proven true, though, is that many kids simply outgrow their food allergies, even some of the most deadly ones. Davis said that as many as one in five youngsters may outgrow an allergy to peanuts but that allergies to eggs, milk, soy and wheat are most often outgrown. In general, peanuts, tree nuts and seafood allergies tend to stay with children as they grow, she said.
To know whether a child has outgrown a food allergy requires repeated skin and blood tests, Silvers said. "If IgE levels in the blood decrease over time, or if skin testing comes back negative or a very small reaction, a child or adult can be given a food challenge to see if they'll react," he said.
To be safe, though, the testing "must be done under a physician's supervision," Davis said, because a serious reaction could occur if the youngster has not outgrown the allergy.
For kids with lingering food allergies, Silvers recommended that the child or parent always carry the antihistamine Benadryl and an epinephrine injection pen. If it's suspected that the child accidentally ingested an allergy-inducing food, the youngster should take the antihistamine right away. If the allergic reaction worsens, administer the epinephrine and get to an emergency room as quickly as possible.
It's important to go to the hospital after a serious allergic reaction, Davis said, because there can be a second wave to the reaction about four to six hours later.
Many children have their own epine
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