Allergies are omnipresent among all age groups. In the United States, more than half the population (54.6%) has one or more allergies. Children are affected by a lot of allergens in the early years of life. Most of these allergies are outgrown before adolescence. Allergies in children are very difficult to be dealt with. It is important to be informed to be able to identify and distinguish allergy from symptoms of other common ailments.
How are allergies in children caused?
Allergies are caused when an individual has a hypersensitive immune system . The otherwise harmless proteins or chemicals in the environment or food, trigger the immune system and gets it into the auto immune mode. The immune system responds by producing certain antibodies, namely, Immunoglobulin E or IgE antibodies. These antibodies bind with the protein and cause the mast cells in the skin, gut and pharynx to release histamine. Histamine causes the adverse physical reactions like inflammation, skin rashes, indigestion, vomiting, etc.
How to identify allergic reactions in children?
- Intense sneezing, runny nose and facial inflammation.
- Red, itchy watery eyes.
- Constant rubbing of nose and eyes.
- Itchiness and irritation in throat. Itching is a trademark of allergy. It is not a symptom of common cold.
- Symptoms persisting for more than two weeks without aggravating.
- Development of dry, itchy and scaly skin rashes. Eczema like red itchy bumps which tends to have watery fluid inside.
- Unexplained indigestion and diarrhea which could be linked to a particular food item.
- Lethargy and lack of energy.
- Symptoms are seasonal and worsen during a particular time of the year.
- Either or both parents suffering from allergies could make the child prone to allergies.
- The child becomes irritable and moody and have difficulty sleeping.
Which are the common allergens that cause allergies in children?
The common allergens to cause adverse physical reactions in children are as follows:
Food is one of the most common sources of allergen for children. Cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, gluten, shell fish, peanuts, soy, corn are some of the most renowned food items that cause allergies. The child could be hypersensitive to the proteins found in the food items mentioned.
It is typically a seasonal allergen which could cause the immune system to react adversely. Pollen from trees, weeds and grasses could get into the nasal passage and bring about the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
Mold spores are another group of allergens which could get air borne and affect children.
Dry skin, hair and fur from animals may cause allergies in kids.
Chemicals in soaps, detergents, cosmetics etc can trigger the immune system in hypersensitive children.
Steps to prevent allergies in children
- Research has shown that breast fed babies have stronger immunity than bottle fed children. Breast milk may help to reduce hypersensitivities in children.
- Get an allergy test done for your child. Detecting the allergens causing the symptoms can help to eliminate them better.
- Self medication may not be a good idea as far as children are concerned. A physician will be able to bring quicker relief especially for the little ones.
- The best option is to avoid the allergens. Install a HEPA enabled air filter to keep the house free of dust and allergens.
- Wash stuffed toys and other toys with an antibacterial solution.
- When the pollen count is high in the air, avoid letting the child go outdoors. Keep door and windows closed during this season.
- Avoid keeping books on open shelves. They catch a lot of dust and can aggravate symptoms.
- Encase pillows, mattresses and bedding in dust proof covers that you wash regularly.
- Clean carpets and rugs, curtains and draperies regularly.
- Read food labels properly for hidden ingredients that can trigger a food allergy.