About Childhood Allergies: Six Common Questions Answered
We want our kids to be healthy, and we work hard to protect them from things that can cause them harm. Many parents worry about their kids developing allergies because they know that it is a significant contributor to sick days at school. Allergies can also be life-threatening.
Check out the six most common questions parents have about childhood allergies and find out the answers so you can make the best decisions for your child.
What are allergies?
An allergy is an abnormal immune response to something that the body thinks is dangerous. They are the sixth leading cause of illness in the U.S. and in kids, they are the cause of at least two million missed school days each year.
A variety of things can cause allergies: outdoor allergens such as grass and mold, animal dander, food, and medicine. While most allergies are not life-threatening, some cause anaphylaxis. This is a severe reaction that can cause hives, itching, flushing and swelling of the lips and, tongue and difficulty breathing.
How does someone develop an allergy?
People develop allergies because their body perceives the allergen as threatening. In response, the immune system releases antibodies to fight back. The antibodies release chemicals such as histamine to block the attack of the allergen. It is the chemical release that causes the allergy symptoms such as sneezing, gastrointestinal upset or hives.
Why do some people have no allergies while other have many?
Most allergies are passed down from generation to generation. However, this is not always the case. People do not inherit a particular allergy. They inherit the likelihood to develop allergies in the future. Statistics show that if you have one allergic parent, you have a 50 percent chance of developing allergies. If both of your parents are allergic, your chances rise to 75 percent.
What are the most common types of allergies?
The most common types of allergies include mold spores, tree, grass and weeds, pet dander, and dust mites. Allergic rhinitis affects 6.1 million children, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation. The most common type is seasonal allergic rhinitis or hay fever. Hay fever is not an allergy to hay specifically, and a fever isn’t usually a symptom. It is an allergy to the pollen released from trees, grasses and weeds, and is most common in the spring and fall when the pollen is in the air. Perennial allergic rhinitis is a year-round allergy to things like mold, dust and pet dander.
Approximately two million children are affected by food allergies in the U.S. The most common food allergies include cow’s milk, fish and shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts, soy, and wheat.
What are the signs and symptoms of allergies?
The most common allergy symptoms include a stuffy or a runny nose, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, the presence of mucus (phlegm), and post-nasal drip. Other symptoms include asthma, eczema, chronic sinus or ear infections, and fatigue.
Food allergy symptoms are different and can include wheezing, difficulty breathing, coughing, throat tightness, hives, itchy or watery eyes as well as gastrointestinal issues such as stomach ache, vomiting, and diarrhea.
What are the best treatment options for allergies in kids?
There are a variety of treatment options available for kids who have allergies. The most commonly used include antihistamines and decongestants, as well as prescription and over the counter medicines in both nasal sprays and pill form. For parents who wish for their child to develop an immunity to the allergen, immunotherapy may be a good option.
Immunotherapy comes in two forms: allergy shots and sublingual (under the tongue) drops. Allergy shots are injections that are given over an extended period of time that contain a small amount of the allergen. This option can be uncomfortable for children who are fearful of shots. and expensive.
Sublingual immunotherapy, or SLIT, is also known as allergy drops. Allergy drops are drops containing a serum of natural extracts of the allergen. Over time and through exposure, the child develops an immunity to the allergen. Unlike allergy shots, SLIT can be administered from the comfort of home and is safe for children under age five. AllergyEasy SLIT treatment is exclusively available at Rainbow Pediatrics in Fayetteville, Raeford and Hope Mills.
To learn more about allergy treatment for kids, schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatric provider. The first step in undergoing any allergy treatment is allergy testing. This can be done in each of our three locations. Before this, however, you should complete our allergy test eligibility form. Download the form here.