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Why is my son allergic to almost everything?

Q: My son is 3 years old. He has a constant runny nose, has had ear problems, been to an ENT, and graduated from him to an allergy specialist. The allergy specialist tested him with 24 reactants, out of which he was allergic to 11 of them. What am I to do? Do I cut down every tree around me and never allow my child to eat chicken and tomatoes ever again? I am just really frustrated that my son appears to almost never be well and I take him to the doctor almost every month. He also is at the bottom of the growth chart. Will he ever outgrow this? Are there food allergy shots? I just want my son to be healthy and gain weight. What is the best thing that I can do for him without drugging with prescription controllers him everyday of his life? Currently the doctor has prescribed Singulair and Asthalin and a cough syrup for congestion. What else can I do?

A:The multiple positive allergy tests show that your son is atopic, i.e. that he, like about 1 in 3 of the population, is genetically predisposed to develop allergic eczema, rhinitis or asthma. Many such individuals have positive skin tests to foods that they tolerate without problems, and I would not advise changing his diet unless you observe improvement in his symptoms on a temporary restricted diet. Respiratory tract symptoms such as runny nose or asthma are usually related to allergens in the air, such as animal dander, pollens or dust mites, rather than foods. In this case, symptoms should improve in a different environment, e.g. when away from home etc. Infection is another factor that can cause persistent rhinitis in young patients, and I assume the ENT specialist ruled this out by examining his nasal cavity and asking about the nasal secretions. You can't escape pollens, (which are usually a seasonal problem) by cutting down local trees, as they blow for miles. Many children outgrow rhinitis, as their nasal cavities grow. Even if a food allergy is present, which I don't think is present, there is much reason to believe, in spite of the multiple positive skin tests, no desensitisation shots are available for food allergies. Nasal steroid sprays like beclomethasone, or nasal steroid drops, are safe and effective, and are certainly worth a therapeutic trial. Once symptoms improve, which may take a couple of weeks of treatment; the treatment could be stopped to see if symptoms recur.

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