An allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to something that is harmless to most people but not to the person with the allergy. Millions of people all around the world suffer with some type of allergy, and most times they appear for the first time in childhood. Mostly the symptoms of allergies occur during a certain time of the year, and these are known as seasonal allergies. Common allergies in children can be anything from pollens to dust, foods, medicines, insect bites and chemicals. Many people adore having a pet, but often the pets contribute to allergies, especially if you have them in a home which is carpeted. Cats cause the most allergy problems and cat allergen can remain in a house for ages, even after the cat has been removed.
As allergies worsen and children develop headaches, sore throats and coughs, these symptoms can often lead to daytime irritability caused from a restless night and disturbed sleep. Not only that, each year allergic rhinitis accounts for many missed school days. People spend thousands of dollars every year on medications and visits to the doctor, because they know too well, that allergies left untreated in children can lead to more serious problems like asthma.
Most Allergies Can Be Treated With Over The Counter Medications
Most allergies can be identified and then treated by a doctor without any testing. If the allergy symptoms are severe, an allergist can be your best bet, especially if your child is losing a lot of sleep and missing out on school too often. The website Allergist at caai.org, sponsored by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology is a wonderful resource on allergies and you will be able to find any medical specialist you want.
Parents first try over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines, and there was a time when they were sedating, but the newer ones like Allegra and Claritin are non-sedating.
Don’t Confuse Allergies With A Cold
Sometimes common allergies in children can be confused with having a cold. Cold and allergy symptoms can be very similar, and to know if your child is an allergy sufferer you can establish if their ‘cold’ always emerges at the same time every year. It is important to know the difference between a cold and allergy simply because each one has different medications, and allergies may require antibiotics while an ordinary cold will not. A runny nose from a cold will start off being clear but it will turn yellow in a few days, while children with allergies will have a clear runny nose. Children with a cold can expect to be over the cold in a week or two, while allergy symptoms can linger through an entire season. Another thing to look out for is that kids with allergies will often have dark circles under their eyes.
Allergic reactions include headaches, skin rashes, fatigue, sneezing, runny eyes, intestinal disturbances, arthritis, chronic bronchitis and others. Often allergies are more prevalent in children where there is history of allergies in the family. Depending on the allergic response, different parts of the body are affected. We know that different allergens evoke symptoms by engaging the immune system at many sites in the body. For instance sneezing and a runny nose can come from a response to pollens in the upper respiratory tract while the same pollen can also cause an immune response in the lower respiratory system with symptoms such as wheezing or asthmatic reactions. The same pollens can also cause an immune reaction in the digestive system, causing nausea, diarrhea or gas. The tendency to have allergies can be passed on from the parents to the children. There is a higher chance that your child also will also have allergies.
Anaphylactic Shock Requires Immediate Medical Attention
A deadly reaction can occur when allergens get into the bloodstream and cause anaphylaxis, which can result in respiratory distress and shock. Foods such as nuts, shellfish and chocolate, insect stings or certain medications are some of the substance responsible for anaphylactic reactions, although environmental allergens such as pollens and dust can also cause anaphylaxis.
Many people die each year as a result of anaphylaxis, and whatever the allergen, anaphylaxis is an emergency situation. to certain foods or insect stings which can result in chemical changes in the body. Some of the symptoms to look out for are:
- the brain or heart may suffer because of a sudden drop in oxygen supply
- blood vessels dilate which leads to a red and blotchy skin
- breathing is difficult because of constricted air passages
- the face swells
Whatever the cause of anaphylaxis, once the allergen gets into the blood stream, the immune system releases histamine and other chemicals in massive amounts which trigger violent symptoms of allergy. The whole body is affected and the person will experience a sudden drop in blood pressure as well as experience difficulty with breathing.
If your child shows the symptoms of anaphylaxis, you must treat it as a medical emergency because it can be fatal and they may need an adrenaline injection. Adrenaline raises the blood pressure and also allow the child to breathe more easily. Sometimes if the heart stops beating, you may need to perform CPR.
Other common allergies in Children Are:
- hay fever – triggered by grass, pollen – sneezing, running nose, watery and itchy eyes
- food allergies – triggers can be any foods but mostly peanuts, milk, fish – diarrhea, difficulty with breathing and shock
- asthma – triggered by pollen, stress, cold air, exercise, cigarette smoke – coughing, tight chest, difficulty with breathing
- atopic dermatitis – triggered by pollens, foods – itching, rash, small blisters found on the cheeks, particularly in very young children, but can also be found on other parts of the body like behind the knees. Eczema also affects many children where the skin becomes red, irritated and itchy, with the skin sometimes oozing.
Look Out For Intolerance Symptoms With Food Allergies
As a baby starts new foods, parents should be on the lookout for intolerance symptom, however many new parents are not sure what symptoms to look out for. Diarrhea, vomiting, your baby crying and pulling up its legs as well as skin rash and gas are just some of the more common signs to look for if you suspect your child has a food allergy. If your baby or young child recoils at the introduction to a new taste, it does not indicate an allergy. Your baby may simply just need to get used to the new taste of some foods. If you do suspect your child has an allergy to a certain food you should stop it immediately. Sometimes you can wait a month or two and them try again because often you find that your baby will tolerate the food then. However if your child has a more serious reaction, there are always doctors, clinics and pediatricians who are willing to advise you on common allergies in children. Some of the foods that cause problems in young children are certain citrus fruits, nuts, fish, milk and eggs.
Eliminate Problematic Foods
The best way to start treatment for food allergies is to avoid the food that causes the allergy. Sometimes you can also use antihistamines for milder reactions. For instance if your baby has a milk allergy, your pediatrician may suggest that you change the formula to another type of milk formula or even to one of the soy formulas. There are specially prepared formulas for babies with milk and soy allergies. Parents who have a baby with lactose intolerance or with a cow’s milk protein allergy for instance will try goat’s milk for their child, bearing in mind that goats milk is not lactose free, but it contains less lactose than cow’s milk. You need to do your research on goat’s milk before you opt for it. You may find that it is better to rather try a new formula for your baby that has no intact protein, milk, casein or soy .
There are many over-the-counter allergy medications available without a prescription, and many parents take this route to treat their children’s allergy symptoms on their own, before consulting their pediatrician.
Having a child with allergies can be stressful for a parent, and our very lifestyles are causing there to be a rise in allergies, particularly food allergies. The use of chemicals in our everyday lives for instance can be causing an increased risks of allergies in children. There are many chemicals which are part of our everyday environments, and even our cleaning products that we use every day are packed with chemicals. The rise of food allergies in children is thought also to come from people who have relied too heavily on antibiotics, and whose immune systems attack things like harmless proteins in foods and pollens etc. Through a good nutritional diet, exercise and reducing stress in children, we can build our children’s immune systems and help them combat common allergies in children.