Children's Allergies

What are allergies?

Allergies are physiological responses caused when the immune system reacts to a specific foreign substance (allergen) that was touched, inhaled, or eaten.

Usually, the human body defends against dangerous substances including viruses and bacteria, but, once in a while, the defenses attack what are usually innocuous substances such as dust, mold, or pollen.

The immune system creates ample amounts of the antibodies called immunoglobin E (IgE), to attack and destroy the supposed enemy. The IgE antibody generally targets a specific allergen - the component that causes the allergic response. In this disease-fighting activity, inflammatory chemicals such as histamines, cytokines, and leukotrienes are discharged or made, and some unpleasant, and, in extreme cases, life-threatening, symptoms may be had by an allergy-prone person.

What are allergic reactions?

An allergic reaction may exist in the eyes, skin, nose, sinuses, lining of the stomach, throat, and lungs - points where immune system cells are situated to fight off intruders that are swallowed, come in contact with the skin, or are inhaled. The following issues may result:

rhinitis - nasal stuffiness, sneezing, nasal itching, nasal discharge, itching in ears or roof of mouth

atopic dermatitis - red, itchy, dry skin

urticaria - hives or itchy welts

allergic conjunctivitis - red, itchy, watery eyes

contact dermatitis - itchy rash

asthma - airway problems such as shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing

What causes allergic reactions?

Hundreds of everyday substances could trigger allergic reactions. The most common triggers, called allergens, are listed here:

tree, grass, and weed pollens foods
natural rubber latex (protein) medicines
molds feathers
dust mites insect stings
animal protein (dander, urine, oil from skin) cockroach droppings and body parts

Who is affected by allergies?

Allergies can affect any person, regardless of age, gender, or race. By and large, allergies are more common in kids. Nevertheless, allergies can occur at any age, or recur after numerous years of remission.

There is a predisposition for allergies to happen in families, although the genetic factors that cause it are not yet realized. Frequently, the indications of allergies develop bit by bit over a period of time.

Allergy victims may become so accustomed to the chronic symptoms such as nasal congestion, sneezing, or wheezing, that they do not believe their symptoms to be strange. Yet, with the help of a physician, these symptoms can usually be prevented or controlled and quality of life is improved.

How is an allergy diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, these tests are used today:

Skin test

The skin test is a method of measuring the child’s level of IgE antibodies to specific allergens. Using diluted solutions of specific allergens, the physician either injects your child with the solutions, or applies them to a small scratch or puncture. Reaction appears as a small red area on the skin. A reaction to the skin test does not always mean that your child is allergic to the allergen that caused the reaction. Skin tests provide faster results and are more specific than blood tests.

Blood test

The blood test is used to gauge the child’s level of IgE antibodies to existing allergens. One standard blood test is RAST (radioallergosorbent test).

Challenge test

This test is supervised by an allergist because a tiny amount of allergen is ingested or inhaled.

Treatment for an allergy:

Specific treatment for an allergy will be determined by the physician using the following:

  • Your child’s age, overall health, and medical history
  • Expectations for the course of the disease
  • Extent of the disease
  • Your child’s tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Your opinion or preference