Understanding Allergies In Kids: What Must Parents Know
Allergies can be treated with antihistamines, eye drops, and nasal sprays can be prescribed. Sometimes allergy shots are recommended to help desensitise the child to an allergen. These allergy shots however are effective against dust, mould, pollens, animals, and insect stings.
Kids allergies: To avoid airborne allergies, keep the family pets out of kids' room
- Allergies in kids can cause watery eyes and sneezing
- They can also cause rashes on skin
- There is no permanent cure for allergies
Allergy is the reaction of the immune system when over exposed to an allergen such as dust or pollen. It results in the release of metabolites which can have an adverse effect on the eyes, nose, throat, lungs, skin, and the gut. The risk factors due to which a child can develop allergies are the genetic history, exposure to allergens and the duration, amount, and frequency of exposure.
Here are some common allergens
1. Air borne: such as pollens released from trees which form the cause of seasonal allergies, dust mites from dust accumulated in the house, moulds found in dark, poorly ventilated spaces such as bathrooms, from pets such as through their saliva, urine or when they shed skin and from cockroaches.
2. Food borne: can be from cow's milk which is the most common food-based cause of allergies in children less than 3 years and from eggs commonly found in children below the age of 1. Other sources are shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat.
3. Insect borne: Insect bites can cause swelling, redness, and itching at the site of the bite.
4. Medicine borne: Antibiotics are the most common type of medicines that cause allergic reactions.
5. Chemicals likes cosmetics or laundry detergents, dyes, household cleaners, and pesticides used on lawns or plants also can cause allergic reactions in children.
1 out of every 6 children in North India has one or more of the following symptoms of an allergic reaction:
- Bouts of sneezing
- Watery eyes
- Chronic cough
- Frequent running nose
- Recurrent pain in the stomach
- Frequent loose motion
- Skin rash
While some allergies are easy to identify, others are less obvious and can be confused with other conditions. Specific diagnosis of allergies can be made by skin tests and/or blood tests if required.
There is no permanent cure for allergies. Most of the paediatric allergies go away with age. Symptoms during an allergic reaction can be easily managed with medicines. However, it's important to get the medicines on time.
The best way to cope with them is to avoid the allergens. Parents must educate their kids early on and often about the allergy and the reaction they can have if they consume or encounter the allergen. Inform all caregivers (childcare staff, teachers, family members, etc) about your child's allergic reactions.
To avoid airborne allergies, keep the family pets out of the child's room, remove carpets or rugs from their room, do not hang heavy drapes and use special covers to seal pillows and mattresses if your child is allergic to dust mites.
If your child is allergic to pollen, keep the windows closed when pollen season is at its peak and ensure the child takes regular baths. Keep kids who are allergic to mould away from damp areas, such as basements, and keep bathrooms and other mould-prone areas clean and dry.
Children with food allergies must avoid products that have allergens they are affected by. One must read food labels carefully.
In some cases, medication such as antihistamines, eye drops, and nasal sprays can be prescribed. Sometimes allergy shots are recommended to help desensitise the child to an allergen. These allergy shots however are effective against dust, mould, pollens, animals, and insect stings.
(Dr Shreya Dubey, Consultant Neonatology & Paediatrics, CK Birla Hospital, Gurgaon)
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