Allergies in Children

December 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Education

This information is about childhood allergies. It covers what they are, what forms they take, what causes them, and how to deal with them.

An allergy is the body’s reaction to a foreign substance. The reaction may involve the eyes, nose, lungs, the skin, the stomach and the intestines. The allergic reaction may be red, watery, itchy eyes and a runny nose; sneezing or coughing, wheezing; rash, dry skin, or hives — or internal upset after eating certain foods.

The tendency to allergies is inherited but specific allergies are not. So if you are allergic to feathers, don’t automatically assume that your child’s allergic reaction is also to feathers.

A tendency to allergies continues throughout life, but your child’s sensitivities and reactions may well change.

During a child’s first eighteen months, food allergies are most common. Most allergists feel that breastfeeding may be best for babies born into families with a history of allergies. Introduce other foods after six months of age, one-at-a-time, and feed each new food for at least four days before adding another. Some allergists recommend up to two weeks between each new food.

If your baby has a reaction, omit the new food for two weeks to see if the symptoms improve or disappear. If they do, double check by starting the suspect food again. If the reaction reappears, eliminate the food and see if the symptoms improve. Be patient, because the improvement may take several days to appear.

Foods that can cause problems for sensitive children include cow’s milk, wheat, corn, tomatoes, soy, peanut butter, strawberries, and eggs. Allergic reactions to foods usually include skin rashes, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea.

Reactions to medications can be very similar to food reactions, and they can happen even if your child was given the medicine previously without any reaction. If your child develops a reaction to a medication, call your health care provider. Let him or her decide whether the reaction is allergic or not. Children who have very severe reactions to drugs should wear special bracelets or necklaces identifying the drug allergy.

When children begin to crawl and walk, they come into contact with other things that can produce allergy Soaps, powders and bubble bath; natural clothing fibers such as wool and silk; even some metals can produce skin reactions. Pollen, dust, feathers, pet dander, and molds may cause nasal allergy or asthma. Children who seem to have a constant cold, but without any fever, may be allergic to airborne substances.

If your child has an allergy, the best way to treat it is by avoiding the substance that causes it. If that’s impossible (as in the case of pollen) the symptoms can be treated with medications. In more severe cases, allergy shots may be needed. These are prepared by an allergy specialist to fit your child’s particular needs, as determined by allergy skin tests. (However, skin tests are often negative in children under five.)

Allergy shots can be effective for hay fever and asthma. They reduce but do not eliminate allergic sensitivity. There is no cure for allergies, but some children improve naturally during their teenage years. Meanwhile, the purpose of allergy treatment is to minimize symptoms and help your child live a normal, comfortable life.

If you suspect that your child has an allergy, discuss it with the child’s health care provider. And if your child is no longer responding to the usual treatment for an existing allergy problem, you should discuss this too.

Remember these key points:

  • Allergic reactions show up in the respiratory, skin, and digestive systems. In children under 8 months, the most common allergy is food allergy. Introduce new foods one-at-a time and determine whether or not they cause reactions.
  • For older children, medications can control the symptoms of milder allergies, and allergy shots may help in some of the more severe cases. But the best treatment for allergies is to avoid the substances that cause them — whenever that’s practical.
Tags: Asthma, Allergen immunotherapy, Cat allergy, Allergology, vomiting

Pollen Allergies

August 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Education

This information is about pollen allergies. It covers what they are, how they affect you, and what to do about them.

A pollen allergy is a reaction by your body to fine powdery grains from plants in the air. Pollen allergies flare up most often in the Spring or Fall depending on whether you are allergic to tree pollen, grass pollen or ragweed pollen.

You may have a pollen allergy if you get hay fever, itching eyes, nasal congestion, wheezing, or a skin rash at certain times of the year, every year. On the other hand, you may have some allergic reaction throughout the year, but your allergies get worse during certain seasons. Your symptoms may increase during the morning and evening hours.

For pollen allergies, the trick is to avoid things that cause them. Here are some suggestions. First, control your inside environment. Sleep with the windows closed. Try to have air conditioning for your home, your car, and your workplace (if you can). Replace the filter in your central air conditioning unit every month.

Outside, get someone else to do the yard work in pollen season, or wear a pollen mask if you must do it yourself. And stay away from parks or other areas that you know are pollen sources. If practical, you may want to plan a vacation trip for the pollen season. Some geographic areas are more pollen-free than others.

You can help relieve the nasal and eye symptoms of your allergy with non-prescription medications called antihistamines. They are sold under brand names such as Chlor-trimetonand or Benadryl. Be sure to read product labels carefully, because not all so-called cold remedies contain antihistamines.

Finally, if you have taken all practical steps to avoid the causes of your allergy–and if non-prescription drugs don’t help–get in touch with your health care provider. A stronger medication may be prescribed for you, or you may be referred to an Allergist for evaluation.

Please remember these key points:

  • Pollen allergies are your body’s reactions to certain small powdery particles from plants in the air.
  • The best way to deal with pollen allergies is to avoid contact with pollen as much as possible.
  • Non-prescription antihistamines can help relieve symptoms.
  • In more severe or persistent cases, be sure to consult your doctor.
Tags: itching eyes, Pollen Allergies, nasal congestion, hay fever, Allergies, skin rash, allergic to pollen

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