Food intolerances, while different than food allergies, can still cause a lot of health problems for people young and old. Children with food intolerances can often go undiagnosed because they don't have the experience to communicate how they feel, or they might assume how they feel is normal because they haven't learned differently. Does your child need to see a food intolerance specialist? Here are some indicators to look for.
1. Trouble with digestion
The most common issues with intolerance are digestive upset. Kids with a food intolerance might:
- Have trouble going to the bathroom. Constipation is a common side effect of food struggles. If your child is eating fiber and drinking plenty of water, they should not have trouble completing a bowel movement.
- Experience bloating. Gas pain should not be common in children. Babies can have gas as their digestive systems adapt to a world outside the womb, but this should normalize within a few months. If your baby or young child still has enough gas that is causing pain, you should see a specialist to check for foods that might be the issue.
- Have diarrhea. Some food aggravates the digestive system, which causes the body to excrete them more quickly.
Ongoing digestive problems can be hard to get to the bottom of. Your child might need to complete a cycle of eliminating food groups in order to find the culprit.
Some food can trigger painful responses in children. Commonly, kids might have joint pain, stomach pain, muscle pain, or oral pain from foods they are sensitive to. If your child frequently complains about a certain part of their body hurting, it's time to seek for an answer as to why. Reflux is a common symptom with food intolerance, but kids don't know to call it heartburn. They might say their throat hurts, that their tummy feels warm or sore, or that their chest has a funny feeling.
A food intolerance can trigger severe headaches, even migraines. Children might show signs of headache by laying down and closing their eyes, complaining about light or noise, or being irritable because of the pain. They might also state pain in a specific part of the head, such as saying their eyes are sore or that their ears hurt.
4. Trouble sleeping
Discomfort from a food intolerance can be so severe that it is hard to sleep. If you child frequently wakes because of bloating, headaches, tingling, or joint pain, see your doctor about possible causes.