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What are Allergies?

Allergies are one of the most common health issues in the world. It’s estimated that roughly 50 million Americans struggle with allergies every year, and children are among that number. In fact, most allergies appear during childhood or adolescence. Allergies, if left untreated, can hinder your child’s ability to sleep, play, or pay attention in school. In some cases, allergies can even prevent your child from participating in certain activities.

In short, an allergy is your body’s response to a substance it views as harmful. When we’re allergic to something, our immune system produces antibodies, and those antibodies attack the offending allergen. Just as with adults, an allergic reaction can range from mild to deadly. However, it doesn’t matter how severe a reaction is, it’s important to know your child’s allergies so that you can help manage them and avoid triggers that could be potentially life-threatening.

Kinds of Allergies

There are several kinds of allergies to be aware of. It’s important to note that while allergies usually present very early, some can develop over time. Alternatively, some may lessen as your child gets older.

Environmental Allergies

Environmental allergies can be tricky to pinpoint because there are so many different kinds. An environmental allergy is an immune response due to something in your surroundings, and without an allergy test, it can sometimes be difficult to discern.

Common environmental allergies include:

  • Dust/Dust Mites
  • Pet Dander
  • Mold
  • Cigarette Smoke
  • Certain cleaning products like bleach
  • Some scents or smells

Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies, also known as “hay fever” are allergies that appear usually during seasonal changes. They can be particularly active during spring when flowers, trees, grass, and other plants begin growing. However, seasonal allergies can occur during any time of year. If you notice that your child develops a cold at the same time every year, then they might have seasonal allergies.

Food Allergies

While a reaction to an environmental allergy can be particularly bad, food allergies tend to be a little more aggressive. It’s estimated that between 6-8% of children under the age of 3 have some sort of food allergy. As with any allergen, the reaction can range from moderate to downright life-threatening. Your child might experience a symptom such as a little irritation in their mouth, or something more severe like swelling, rash, or something more serious like anaphylaxis. Most parents don’t discover a food allergy until their child ingests said food and has a reaction.

Common food allergies include:

  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts or Tree nuts
  • Shellfish
  • Wheat

Drug Allergies

It’s important to note that any medication has the potential to cause an allergic reaction of some kind. In fact, roughly 5-10% of all negative reactions to drugs are allergy-related. Additionally, an allergic reaction isn’t the same as a side effect, nor should it be confused with toxicity caused by an overdose. As with any allergy, it’s important to take note of and inform your pediatric provider of any allergies your child may have.

Common Allergy Symptoms

Most doctors will agree that while not every child reacts the same way to an allergen, there are common symptoms that characterize an allergic reaction.

  • Sneezing
  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Rash or hives
  • Swollen lips, tongue, eyes, or face
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Anaphylaxis

How are allergies diagnosed?

The best and safest way to determine whether or not your child has an allergy is to have an allergy test performed. There are multiple options for diagnostic testing, including:

  • Skin testing
  • Blood testing
  • Oral food challenges
  • Pulmonary function testing
  • Guided elimination diets

What allergy treatments are available for children?

There are many options for allergy treatment in children, including:

  • Allergy shots
  • Drug desensitization
  • Eye drops
  • Food avoidance
  • Inhalers
  • Nasal sprays
  • Rescue medications with action plans for use
  • Topical therapies

When to Call Your Raleigh Group Provider

If you think your child is suffering from a severe allergic reaction, call 911 or take them to the nearest emergency room. However, their reaction is minor, but you still suspect an allergic reaction, call your local Raleigh Group provider to set up an appointment. Our pediatricians in Memphis have years of experience helping children and their families manage allergies of all types. To learn more information, reach out today.