Allergies

Top 10 Allergy Signs in Children

Allergy Signs in ChildrenAllergic rhinitis affects as many as 40% of children in the United States alone. A nationwide survey found that a little over half the population in the United States suffers from any one or more allergies. Often children are down with illness because of various types of allergies. With a problem this grave, it is important to be informed about the allergy signs in children. This will enable earlier intervention and treatment which can reduce suffering especially when children are concerned.

In some cases, the allergy is mild, while sometimes it may become serious. Here is a description of top 10 allergy signs in children and testing they can undergo to determine the type of allergy.

Why do adverse physical reactions appear in allergies?

In some individuals, the body reacts to the protein in otherwise harmless allergens. The body responds by producing antibodies which are known as IgE. These antibodies react and bind with the protein in allergens and cause the body to produce histamine from the mast cells of the gut, skin and pharynx. Histamine is the main culprit behind the adverse physical reactions in the body. It dilates blood vessels and irritates nerve endings and causes the body to manifest various symptoms.

Top 10 Allergy Signs in Children

1. Red, itchy patches on skin

Red itchy patches on skin which appear as welts in a cluster and could have a watery fluid inside. These are also known as Hives or Urticaria. A scaly itchy skin rash appearing as weeping blisters, known as Eczema is also caused by allergies. About 30% of eczema in kids is related to allergies.

2. Allergic Crease at the bridge of the nose

Constant rubbing of nose due to irritation in the nasal passage is a characteristic trait for children suffering from allergies. The upward rubbing movement is also known as allergic salute and can result in a line or crease at the bridge of the nose.

3. Breathing through the mouth

Nasal congestion caused by allergies can cause the child to breathe through the mouth instead of the nose. This is particularly associated with drying of mouth and a frequent feeling of thirst.

4. Watery, red itchy eyes

Red itchy watery eyes are a definite sign of seasonal allergies. Histamine in response to the allergen causes irritation in the eyes and can set forth symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis. Swollen eye lids and dark circles and bags under the eyes are some of the symptoms of allergies affecting eyes.

5. Angioedema

Angioedema is the inflammation of the eyes, nose and face. The face appears blushed and flushed out. Oral allergy symptoms in reaction to the protein found in otherwise harmless fruits and vegetables can cause inflammation of the lips, mouth and tongue.

6. Continuous Sneezing

Continuous sneezing with head thrown backwards is an indication of allergy. Normal sneezing due to cold is of a lesser intensity and frequency.

7. Sinustitis

Sinusitis can be caused by allergic rhinitis. It involves coughing, green and yellow mucous discharge and throbbing pain in the forehead.

8. Ear Infection

Irritation in the ear canal as well as that in the pharynx, throat and nasal passage is also an indication of ear infection due to allergies. It can cause inflammation and accumulation of fluids in the ear cavity.

9. Digestive distress

Unexplained diarrhea, vomiting and stomach upset could be caused by food allergies. The protein in certain foods is not destroyed by gastric juices and acids and on reaching the stomach can wreak havoc by irritating the gastrointestinal tract.

10. Behavioral problems

Children exhibit a lot of behavioural symptoms under the influence of allergens. Inability to concentrate, eating disorders , mood fluctuations are some of the common fallout of allergies in children. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD) are often linked to allergies. It is also believed that food allergies, especially gluten allergies worsen autism.

There are various allergens that are responsible for causing these above 10 allergy signs. Food products, pollen grains, dairy products and many more can trigger allergies. The following gives the list of signs and symptoms suffered by children when triggered by certain allergens.

Food Allergy Signs in Children

Most children suffer from various kinds of food allergies such as wheat, peanut, soybeans, shellfish, sea food and tree nuts allergies. Cashew, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and almonds allergies can result in food allergies. Often these allergies can cause serious complications in children. Following are some of the food allergy signs and symptoms:

  • Anaphylactic shock
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Diarrhea and/or vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Runny and itchy nose
  • Eczematous rash
  • Red and raised bumps on skin
  • Itchiness
  • Hives
  • Itching in throat and mouth

Dairy Allergy Signs in Children:

All parents pass on a rule to their children that they should drink a glass of milk daily. However, for some children it can be a matter of life and death. Most of the kids are intolerant to lactose, which means that they can’t digest dairy products. This can include ice creams, yogurt, cheese, milk, also egg allergy in kids. One must be very careful when it comes to the infant milk allergy. Many a times, children develop symptoms of dairy allergy which appear within a couple of hours and last for a couple of days. Infant can become irritated and cry continuously, develop dark circles around the eyes associated with tantrums. Signs and symptoms of dairy allergy can include:

  • Bed wetting
  • Lethargy
  • Hyperactivity
  • Inattentiveness
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nasal congestion
  • Red and itchy eyes
  • Wheezing
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Swelling of throat, lips and mouth
  • Dark circles around eyes
  • Skin rashes

Seasonal Allergy Signs in Children:

Warm summer days can be a miserable days for some children. During spring or summer, these children are down with some allergy or because of some allergens in air. Seasonal allergic reactions are triggered by pollen grain from flowers. This is often called allergic rhinitis or hay fever. Here are the signs and symptoms of seasonal allergies in children.

  • Allergic shiners
  • Allergic salute
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Red and itchy eyes
  • Sneezing continuously
  • Itchy palate
  • Itchy nose
  • Stuffy or runny nose

The allergy signs in children are not hard to read and it is very important to see the allergist or the pediatrician and detect and isolate the allergens causing it, to prevent any long term irreversible developmental damages.

Allergic testing for children

Allergic testing for children is usually done to find out if children are allergic to some specific substances such as pollens, animal dander or foods. Some children show allergic response to foods like peanuts, milk proteins, soy, eggs, fish, shellfish, whey, wheat, tree nuts and casein. Some other children may be allergic to weeds, plants, dust mites, grass, mold, animal dander and pollens. If these allergies are not detected and treated, children may develop certain health illnesses like eczema, asthma, nasal congestion, rashes, food allergies and severe anaphylactic shock.

Is allergy testing for children safe?

Age is not at all a barrier and therefore children can be tested for allergy. This will not cause any effect to the child’s health and is a very safe approach.

Why allergy testing is performed?

Allergy tests are done to find out whether the body is producing antibodies on getting exposed to certain substances like pollen, foods or medications. Allergy tests are not required when the child is suffering from mild symptoms like runny nose, rash and diarrhea. It is highly recommended when the child has severe symptoms such as anaphylactic shock. Allergy testing becomes necessary even when the child suffers from persistent symptoms like diarrhea on getting exposed to milk and its products. This allergic test helps in confirming the particular allergic reaction.

Types of allergy testing for children

Here are the different types of allergy tests performed to determine allergy in children. If a child is already being treated with antihistamines or is an asthmatic, then allergy testing is not recommended. In this case, blood tests are done.

  • Skin prick test – Also called as scratch test, because scratch is made instead of pricking for testing the allergen. This is a painless procedure, where a small prick is made in which the specific antigen is placed. This is usually done on the forearm of the child. The result can be observed within 15 – 20 minutes of placing the antigen. A small bump develops which turns red in the tested site. The severity can be known by the amount of redness and the bumps’ size.
  • Intra dermal skin test – In this procedure, the specific allergen is injected beneath the skin. This test moreover gives accurate results than the skin prick test, but this is not recommended for small children. This test helps in finding out allergens like pollen, foods, mold, animal dander, venom and penicillin.
  • Skin patch test – In this allergic testing, a skin patch which contains specific allergens is applied on the skin. This is similar to skin prick test where only one allergen is tested while in this skin patch test, many allergens are tested at once. Result will be reddening of the particular allergen site the body is allergic to.
  • RAST – Known as Radioallergosorbent Test, it is a blood test which helps in finding out the amount of antibodies produced by a particular allergen. This test is more helpful than the other skin tests which are less painful, less expensive and less complex to detect. RAST is usually considered when the skin tests will not help in detecting the allergen.
  • Elimination diet test – This is not a laboratory test, but this is also prescribed by an allergist to observe the child’s sensitivity to certain foods. Certain suspected foods are eliminated from the diet the child takes for nearly 4 – 7 days and then the child is observed if any allergy symptoms subside. It is observed that nearly 80 % of food allergies are due to foods like milk, wheat, soybeans, peanuts, eggs, corn, nuts and shellfish. If the symptoms still don’t subside, some more foods are eliminated in the child’s diet until the symptoms subside. Slowly new foods are restored into the child’s diet to provide essential nutrients, fats, carbohydrates and proteins to the child.One main drawback with elimination diet test is some foods contain hidden ingredients, especially the processed foods. Therefore the child should be given only pure foods and the parents need to be very conscious before giving any processed food to their children.
Is allergy testing for children accurate?

Allergy testing is less accurate in younger children because of their less maturity and changing immune system. In older children, the testing is fairly accurate as they are in a state of approaching early adulthood. Most of the allergy tests can give nearly 90 % accurate results and only a few may be incorrect.

Are there any alternative allergy testing methods?

Skin prick tests, patch tests, RAST, blood tests and elimination diet tests are the only diagnostic tests recommended by the allergists. They do carry some drawbacks due to the delayed allergic reaction to certain substances. This is the reason parents opt for alternative tests like hair analysis, Vega, Kinesiology and more. These tests are performed in clinical research labs which lack scientific evidence and may also give inaccurate results. Therefore, the parents should be very keen while taking their children for allergy testing.

This is all about the top 10 allergy signs in children, various other symptoms and allergy testing in children.

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