Allergic Reactions in Kids: Signs and Treatments
Does it seem like your child is chronically suffering from a cold or the sniffles? Those scratchy throats and runny noses might not just be the latest bug going around, they could be the result of seasonal allergies. According to the AAFA (Asthma and Allergy Foundation) 50 million Americans are affected by allergies. On top of that, allergies are the third leading chronic disease in children in the United States.
Seasonal allergies are the primary allergy for millions of Americans. Seasonal allergy symptoms can include itchy watery eyes, sneezing, itchy nose or throat, stuffy nose, coughing, and a clear runny nose. Some people refer to seasonal allergies as hay fever, but kids typically do not run a fever with allergies, and there are many more allergens than just hay. For example, tree, grass or weed pollen, mold spores, and pet dander are common allergens. Treatments for allergies vary, and there is no cure for them. One way to treat allergies is by limiting her exposure to the allergens. Have her wash her hands or take a bath after playing outside so as to avoid bringing any spores into the house. Keep windows in the house closed during high pollen times and run the air conditioner to help filter the air. Having a hepa air filter can help eliminate dust and dander from the air and reduce allergy symptoms. If avoiding allergens doesn’t work then you can try antihistamines or decongestants to treat the symptoms. A homeopathic approach is to eat a tablespoon of bee pollen every day. Bee pollen contains quercetin which minimizes or eliminates the histamine response. Bee pollen is typically available in health food stores. The more local you can buy the bee pollen, the better it will work because the same allergens are at work.
Skin allergies include poison ivy, sumac and oak. Other common skin allergies involve latex, cosmetics, and perfumes. In order to suffer the side effects of these allergies a person has to physically come into contact with the allergen. Contact with some foods will also cause a skin rash. Red and itchy rashes or blisters are the primary symptoms of a skin allergy. Topical treatments like Calamine lotion, cold soaks in an oatmeal bath, or cold compresses can help to reduce the itching. Over the counter antihistamines may help as well.
Insect stings or bites are another common cause of allergic reactions. Bee stings, fire ants, and spider bites are some of the major culprits. A mild reaction might be red bumps, itchiness, or minor swelling. For these symptoms, wash the area thoroughly; apply an ice pack or a cool wet cloth to relieve the pain. An over the counter antihistamine can help with the swelling. If more severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath, swelling of the face, tongue, or throat, difficulty swallowing, or dizziness occur take the child to the ER immediately.
Food and drug allergies are listed as the primary allergy for 6% of allergy sufferers. Peanuts or tree nuts, milk, seafood, soy, eggs, and wheat are the most common food allergies. Penicillin is the most common drug allergy. Food and drug allergies can range from minor to severe. In a minor allergy the symptoms could be hives, itchy face, or upset stomach. Most of these symptoms will clear up within a few days if whatever triggered it is avoided. More severe reactions include chronic migraines, swelling of the face and throat, and anaphylaxis, which is life threatening and should be treated with epinephrine immediately, if possible. When in doubt seek medical attention immediately.
If you see signs of allergic reactions in your child you might consider taking them to an allergist who can do skin patch testing to determine what she is allergic to so that the allergen can be avoided in the future. Severe chronic allergies can be treated with injections that may improve your child’s quality of life.