Symptoms of Allergies in Babies
As of 2010 the number of children detected with hay fever in the United States of America in the past year was 7.1 million. Allergic rhinitis or hay fever is the most common allergy symptom experienced by individuals.
Moreover, what increases the incidence is the fact that if any one parent experiences allergies then the child has a 25% chance of developing it. If both the parents have allergies then the baby has a 75% chance of developing it. The allergies in babies can create a havoc and bring a lot of misery both for the new parents and the little ones.
Allergies are basically an autoimmune disorder. The hyperactive immune system starts to treat the otherwise harmless substances in the environment as enemies and creates an army of antibodies to combat it. These antibodies are called the Immunoglobulin E (IgE) and can react and bind with the irritants and cause the mast cells or basophils to release an inflammatory chemical, namely, histamine. Histamine causes the adverse reactions in the body.
Pollen, mold, dust mites, dander can enter the airways and irritate the nasal lining causing symptoms. Babies can react to certain proteins in food and cause symptoms. Certain symptoms of allergies can be non IgE mediated and can cause equal pain and discomfort. The symptoms manifest more aggressively because the immune system in babies is immature and not yet developed. The baby is sensitive to the new environment outside the womb and can suffer from adverse allergic reactions.
It is very important to be informed about the allergies which affect infants.
What are the symptoms of allergies in babies?
The symptoms in babies can be classified according to the type of allergies:
- The most common symptom in babies is nasal congestion, stuffy nose, sneezing, red, itchy and watery eyes. This could be coupled with throat irritation and cough. Itchy red rashes on skin are another major symptom.
- Seasonal allergies can be most often correlated with the symptoms. Different pollen is active different times of the year and so the allergies could be present all through the year. Allergies can be distinguished from common cold by the fact that they exist over a considerable period of time, sometimes even weeks.
- A mild fever of around 100 degrees Fahrenheit could be present. And the mucous is drained from the back of the throat causing nasal congestion. In common cold mucous is discharged mainly through the nose.
- The symptoms tend to get worse in the night.
- However, mold spores tend to be active throughout the night and can cause intense symptoms in the morning hours.
- In babies food can account for 90% of the allergic symptoms . It is generally manifested in symptoms of a digestive distress. Again it is important to distinguish the symptoms from a stomach flu and lactose intolerance. A stomach flu is when the digestive tract is under the attack of an impending virus or bacteria. Lactose intolerance is when the body does not have the enzyme lactase to break down the protein lactose found in milk.
- The baby reacts to the milk proteins and has an IgE mediated response in the body. The resulting histamine causes the adverse reactions in the body. When the baby is introduced to solid foods, it can be true for any food group.
- Sometimes the allergen may percolate from the mothers diet in breast fed babies. In that case the mother needs to stay away from the foods giving allergy to the babies.
- The top eight common food allergens are milk, wheat, soy, shell fish, fish, eggs, peanuts and other tree nuts.
- The common symptoms of food allergies in babies are vomiting, diarrhea, swelling, hives, eczema and breathing difficulty.
Reactions to environmental stimulants like chemicals, metals, drugs, medications etc can cause a non IgE mediated response in the body. The symptoms would be allergic reactions on the skin like hives, urticaria, skin rashes etc. Allergic contact dermatitis is a common reaction to environmental irritants. Headaches, cough, breathing problems etc can also occur.
An extreme reaction in most types of allergies is Anaphylactic shock. In this state the infant experiences shortness of breath, dizziness, confusion and extreme irritability. This could be an emergency medical condition and would require the administration of a single dose of the epinephrine to resolve the symptoms.