How a Child Might Describe a Reaction

Children have unique ways of describing their experiences and perceptions, and allergic reactions are no exception.

Children have unique ways of describing their experiences and perceptions, and allergic reactions are no exception. Precious time can be lost when adults do not immediately recognize that a reaction is happening or don’t understand what a child is telling them.

Signs of an allergic reaction in children, especially very young ones, can include:

· Putting their hands in their mouths

· Pulling or scratching at their tongues

· Slurring their words

· Their voices may change (e.g., become hoarse or squeaky)

A child might use words like these to describe a reaction:

  • "This food is too spicy."
  • "My tongue [or mouth] is hot [or burning, tingling, itching]."
  • "It feels like something’s poking my tongue."
  • "It [my tongue] feels like there is hair on it."
  • "My tongue feels full [or heavy or funny]."
  • "There’s something stuck in my throat."
  • "It feels like a bump is on the back of my tongue [throat]."
  • "My lips feel tight."
  • "It feels like there are bugs in there." (to describe itchy ears)
  • “My eyes are burning [or itchy].”
  • “My skin feels itchy.”
  • “My stomach [or tummy] hurts.”
  • “My chest is tight.”
  • “Something is wrong” or “Something bad is happening.”

If you think your child is having an allergic reaction, seek help immediately. Learn more about treating allergic reactions.

Download a PDF resource with this information in English or Spanish.

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