It is National Food Allergy Awareness Week, and if your child has been recently diagnosed with a food allergy, you're going to have to make some big diet and lifestyle changes. These changes often affect entire families.

A food allergy is when your child's body has a bad immune reaction to a certain food. This is different from a food intolerance, which does not affect the immune system. This is true even though some of the same signs may be present.

An allergic reaction to can cause hives, asthma, itching in the mouth, trouble breathing, stomach pains, vomiting, or diarrhea. It does not take much of the food to cause a severe reaction in highly allergic children.

It is normal for a parent to feel overwhelmed and even challenges by these changes to a child's diet. Since there is not yet a medication that can prevent food allergies, strict avoidance of the allergy-causing food is the only way to prevent a reaction.

Suspected food allergies should always be evaluated, diagnosed, and treated by a qualified medical professional, such as a board-certified allergist. Your primary care provider may refer you to an allergist.