What Are Allergies?
Allergies occur when the body reacts to a substance it views as a harmful “invader.” An allergic reaction is the way the body responds to an allergen. When a child has allergies, they may experience an allergic reaction, which happens when their immune system becomes hypersensitive to certain substances, causing bothersome symptoms, such as a runny nose, an irritated throat, itchy eyes, or sneezing.
An allergic reaction can occur anywhere in the body, including the skin, eyes, lining of the stomach, throat, lungs, nose, and sinuses.
What Causes Allergies?
Substances that often cause allergic reactions include:
- Pollen: Hay fever is an allergic response to pollen. Hay fever causes inflammation and swelling of the lining of the nose.
- Dust mites: Dust mites are microscopic, insect-like pests that live in dust and in the fibers of household objects.
- Pet dander: Pet dander is composed of tiny particles of skin shed by cats, dogs, rodents, and other animals.
- Foods: Common foods that may cause an allergic reaction include peanuts, eggs, milk, shellfish, wheat, soy, and tree nuts.
- Mold spores: Mold is a type of fungus with spores that float in the air, similar to pollen. Mold can be found indoors in damp areas, such as the bathroom or kitchen.
- Insect stings: An insect sting allergic reaction often include swelling that extends beyond the sting site.
- Medicines: Any medication, such as over-the-counter, prescription or herbal, is capable of causing a drug allergy.
When Should Parents Consider Allergy Testing for Their Kid?
If your child develops hives after eating a particular snack or has itchy eyes and a runny nose at certain times of the year, it may be time to consider allergy testing. Common indicators of allergies in children often include:
- Rhinitis (runny nose, nasal congestion, and sneezing)
- Skin rashes
- Itchy eyes or skin
- Digestion problems
Anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction, may cause the following symptoms:
- Lightheaded or faint
- Constriction of the airways and a swollen tongue or throat
- Confusion and anxiety
- Skin reactions, including hives and flushed or pale skin
- Low blood pressure
- Weak or rapid pulse
It is important to be prepared and know the signs of an anaphylactic reaction. At any age, anaphylaxis can be deadly without proper medical attention. For emergency treatment, epinephrine is recommended to treat the symptoms of anaphylaxis.
Epinephrine helps quickly reverse the symptoms of anaphylaxis. It works by relaxing the muscles around the airways in the lungs, helping the airways to open up.
How Does Allergy Testing Work?
A blood test involves using a small needle, a doctor will take a blood sample from a vein in your child’s arm. A small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. Allergy testing is only performed if parent has a concern due to hives or rash.
Allergy Treatment Plan
Your child’s treatment plan will depend on the type and severity of their allergy. Children that are at risk for anaphylactic shock, a severe allergic reaction that can be deadly if not treated right away, may need to take extra care to avoid the allergy-causing substance. This may involve carrying an emergency epinephrine treatment with them at all times.