Just a little while back my husband and I took our son to the doctor. For some reason, out of the blue, my son started choking every time he took a drink. The doctor took my son’s background and put it all together.
For his entire young life, my son suffered from asthma as well as eczema, both symptoms of an allergy. The doctor was concerned my son had also developed esophogitis from an allergy and said he would need to do a scope on him to make sure.
Just as the doctor had thought, the bottom half of his esophagus had some pretty severe swelling in it. They did a RAST test — a blood allergy test — and found out he was allergic to milk protein.
So we did as we were instructed and took him off anything containing any form of milk or milk protein, which by the way is not an easy thing to do. After a week of his new diet, my son’s eczema had cleared up completely. I could not keep my hands off my son’s new skin.
But that was not the only change that took place. That rambunctious and rowdy child I have often wrote about had disappeared and been replaced with someone else. He became much less hyper, more attentive and easier to correct when he misbehaved.
Well, needless to say this drastic change in his behavior made me wonder if it was the milk causing him to be “all boy and then some”. It seemed too strange that when I changed his diet, his behavior changed.
So, one night, after tucking the kids into bed, I got online. I couldn’t believe what all I found out about milk allergies and behavior. There were so many sites talking about the connection between “very active children” and food allergies, milk being one of them.
What was even more scary was that I also learned a milk allergy could cause symptoms that mimic ADHD. I wasn’t the only parent who discovered that removing milk from my child’s diet didn’t only make a physical difference, but a mental one as well.
I asked the doctor about what all I had learned and he said it was possible my son’s allergy to milk could have caused a behavior problem. He said a child who is always feeling bad is bound to be cranky and irritable.
What the doctor said made sense, but I feel there’s more to it then that. Whatever the reason was, it didn’t matter to me. I had a new concern. How many kids are out there on medication for ADHD who don’t actually have it, but have a food allergy instead?
The doctor who caught my son’s allergy informed me we were lucky. Most parents don’t catch it until their child is at least 6 or 7 years old and by then it is really advanced. If we hadn’t caught it this soon, would my son have been diagnosed with ADHD and put on unnecessary medicines?
I chose to write about this because I feel it is something people need to know. Until all this happened I had no idea an allergy could display these symptoms. Imagine my son’s esophagus swelling to the point he was choking on drinks, and I had no idea it was happening.
Which, by the way, leaves me thankful for my daughter’s reflux. If she didn’t have to go to the doctor for treatment, I would not have asked about my son. You see, I thought he too had reflux due to the sleepless nights and the choking.
I’m hoping the information I am sharing in this column will be of some help to many of you. You see, children, no matter their age, have a hard time telling us what is wrong. It is part of our job as parents to put the pieces together and try our best to help them. Maybe for some of you out there, this is the missing piece of the puzzle.
Tanya Nave, who lives in Kensington, is a wife, mother and writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org