Have you recently noticed your child has gotten hives from certain foods they’ve eaten, or a runny nose during pollen season? This is the best indicator that your child may be developing allergies.
If you’re still deciding whether or not to take your child for allergy testing, read on:
What Causes Allergies?
An allergy is your immune system's overreaction to a substance that is harmless to most people. The actual substance that triggers a reaction is referred to as an “allergen”, and your body’s reaction is its way of defending your body against them. While hereditary factors do play a large role in determining whether or not a child has allergies, specific allergies and types of reactions are not necessarily inherited.
When Do Children Develop Allergies?
There is no specific age for children to develop allergies. You may notice a reaction to an allergen, food or medication after your child’s first encounter or after being exposed multiple times.
What Do Allergy Symptoms Look Like?
Allergies affect each child differently. You may want to note down when and why these symptoms arise in order to provide the most accurate information to your doctor. This may include keeping a food diary, or paying extra attention to your child after they’ve spent time outside.
Some of the most common allergy symptoms are:
Skin rashes or hives
Sneezing, coughing, itchy throat and eyes, or a runny nose
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath (possible asthma).
Nausea or an upset stomach due to something they’ve ingested.
Ear infections due to inflammation and fluid accumulations.
Common Allergy Triggers in Children
Your child can become allergic to almost anything. Overall, there are some allergens that affect more children on average, including:
Environmental: tree or plant pollen, grass, insect bites or stings
Foods: peanuts, eggs, milk, and milk products
Medications: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen, antibiotics such as amoxicillin, penicillin, and others.
Indoors/Other: pet hair or dander, dust miles, mold, latex
Diagnosing Your Child’s Allergies
To determine whether or not your child is actually developing an allergy, you should consult your doctor for allergy testing.
An allergist will ask your son or daughter about his/her symptoms, perform a physical exam, and administer the allergy test. Skin tests will tell you immediately what your child is allergic to, while blood tests will take a few additional days. If your child has a food allergy, your doctor may suggest an ‘elimination diet’, which takes certain foods out of your child’s diet to see if they were the cause of their symptoms.
After the test results have come in, your doctor will develop a treatment plan for your child. Based on allergy testing, your doctor may recommend certain medications, prevention tips, and even allergy shots.