Can Food Allergies Cause Speech Disorders?
Posted by Chris O on Thursday, July 18th, 2013
It’s not hard to imagine that seasonal allergies can impact speech when you consider the usual symptoms – runny or stuffy nose, itchy throat, sneezing, and general congestion. Food allergies, however, should not be overlooked. Have you ever considered that the food you put into your body might just be affecting the way the words come out of your mouth? Food allergies are suspected of impacting speech development almost as much as seasonal allergies do, but the connection isn’t always as obvious.
What Do Food Allergies Do to the Body?
When you have a food sensitivity or allergy, your body can react in multiple ways, but most often at the root of those reactions is inflammation. This can be around the eyes, in the throat, in the form of hives, or in the GI tract. These are the signs and symptoms that you can more easily see and feel. If you are allergic to dairy, for example, your digestive system might become irritated if you drink a glass of milk. When it comes to food allergies, however, there are other body reactions you might be having that are underlying causes to seemingly unrelated issues. You might have ear infections, a feeling of fullness on your tongue, mood swings, and more.
Some of the most common sources of food allergies include foods that are on most menus, in almost every grocery store aisle, and are common ingredients in all types of foods.
The foods that most often cause allergies are also often the ones that provide essential nutrients – dairy provides calcium, nuts provide protein and healthy fats, etc. For people allergic to soy, they might avoid the intake of the foods that supply the important dietary fats Omega-3 that supply Vitamin E. A deficiency in this vitamin has been shown to contribute to expressive speech delay, sensory integration dysfunction, and verbal apraxia. When there is a food allergy the body does not absorb the nutrients in the ways it needs to for healthy development in many areas, including hearing and speech communication.
Food Allergies, Ear Infections, and Speech Disorders – What is the Connection?
One of the top reasons why people develop ear infections is an allergic reaction. The Eustachian tubes are responsible for helping to drain fluid from the middle ear and can become less efficient at draining when allergies cause excessive fluid build-up and inflammation. Then this fluid becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, resulting in hearing loss and a painful ear infection. Ear infections can negatively impact speech and communication skills.
Don’t Fear the Foods – The Importance of Allergy Testing
In response to the concerns about general health and food allergies, some people are turning to drastic diet changes without supported cause. While foods can be the sources of serious allergic reactions, unexplained illnesses or behaviors might be subtle signs of an allergy. There are several things you can do to more methodically determine the potential of any food allergies.
- Talk with your doctor about allergy testing methods and which one might be best for you or your child.
- Have patience while finding the answers. It often takes several weeks or more to see a difference in behaviors and health after dietary changes.
- Become an avid label reader and keep a journal of how you or your kids feel – along with the foods that are consumed each day. You might be able to see a pattern that can point you in the right direction.
Food allergies can be difficult to diagnose, especially because more than one allergy might be the culprit. Once a diagnosis is made, it is important to become an advocate for yourself or your child. It can be very challenging to change a dietary lifestyle, but just like those with pet hair allergies can still enjoy caring for pet fish (with even more ease than a furry friend!), you can find new ways to get the tastes you enjoy from other foods. Seek consultations with professionals who can also help you manage your outward allergy symptoms, such as a dermatologist for a skin rash or a speech therapist for communication issues. As you get a balance back within your body for the food issues, these specialists can help you manage the struggles that might have been resulting from your body’s fight against the food.
Speech Buddies offers tools for parents and speech therapists to help children overcome speech disorders. Consider using Speech Buddies to make articulation practice fun and engaging for your child.