Allergies are the result of the body’s immune system responding or reacting to a substance that is otherwise harmless. Examples of these are certain types of food, pollen, bee sting venom, and animal dander. These are also some of the most common child allergies.
Common & Uncommon Child Allergies
There are various types of allergies, but statistics show that the prevalence of allergic diseases has risen steadily worldwide. School-age children developing antibodies to one or more common allergens presently are approaching 40% to 50%. In 2012, over 7 million children were reported to have respiratory allergies.
Reports show that in the Philippines, allergies have an overall prevalence of 3.9%, while asthma, a condition that usually occurs with allergies, rates 3.0% in prevalence. Females have a higher likelihood than men of having both afflictions. Asthma and allergies are more common in urban living areas.
What Are Some Common Allergies in Children?
Allergens, which are often airborne, include:
- Dust mites or tiny insects. These feed on dead skin cells, and are the main allergy-causing components in house dust. They are found in beds, upholstery, and carpets.
- Pollen. Pollen causes hay fever, and is found in trees, weeds, and grass. Airborne pollen fertilizes plants, and abounds in the morning and on warm, dry days.
- Pets. Pets spread allergens when they shed their skin and lick themselves or their owners. Their dry saliva creates protein particles that get into the air.
- Cockroaches carry a lot of viruses and bacteria.
Food also causes common child allergies. Here are the most common causes:
- Protein in formula made from cow’s milk causes allergies, although most children outgrow this
- Many babies who are allergic to cow’s milk are usually allergic to protein in soy.Eggs found in many children’s meals. This, again, can be outgrown.
- Fish, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts, which stays until adulthood.
- Wheat. This may be a life-threatening allergy.
Other causes of common child allergies are:
- Insect bites. These cause swollen, red, and itchy skin. Insect venom allergy has graver symptoms.
- Medicines, like antibiotics and over-the-counter drugs may cause adverse reactions.
- Chemicals in cosmetics, laundry detergents, dyes, household cleaners, and pesticides.
What Are Some Types of Unusual Allergies?
While it is important to know and understand common child allergies, parents must also be wary of uncommon and unusual allergens, such as the following:
Red meat allergies are induced by a bite from a Lone Star tick. An allergist may prescribe epinephrine to cover the risk of anaphylaxis. Antihistamines may also work. Regarding prevention, it is best to consult your child’s doctor.
Raw fruits and vegetables
Some individuals who have allergies to pollen and other environmental factors may mistakenly believe they have food allergies when eating raw fruits and vegetables. This is due to some foods having proteins, which have similar structures to the inhaled allergens. The main mode of treatment would be avoiding the food that causes the allergic reaction.
People with latex allergies can develop allergies to:
Proteins in natural rubber latex are structurally similar to the proteins found in the mentioned foods. People with this allergy should practice avoidance.
Some spices are allergens, like the following:
- Coriander belongs to the family of spices known to cause common child allergies, including caraway, fennel and celery
Avoidance is best, but for less serious reactions, an allergist may recommend over-the-counter treatment such as antihistamines.
Chocolate is usually not identified as an allergen, but its ingredients are like nuts and milk. Avoidance as a preventive measure is always best, but antihistamine and cortisone cream (for skin irritation) can be used for less severe reactions.
What Causes Common Child Allergies?
Common child allergies are usually hereditary. Genetics plays a significant role in determining whether a child will develop allergies. Having a parent or sibling who has allergies increases the likelihood of the child inheriting allergies. However, the parent’s allergies and reactions do not necessarily dictate the allergies and reactions of the child.
Signs & Symptoms
What Happens if Your Child has an Allergy?
The severity of the child’s reaction varies from mild to fatal. In a child with allergies, their immune system produces substances called antibodies, which mark a certain allergen as harmful. When the child encounters that allergen, their body will then react, manifesting as inflammation of the skin, sinuses, airways or digestive system.
Some allergies are more harmful than others. At the more extreme end, allergies may cause anaphylaxis, a severe, life-threatening reaction. This is considered an emergency situation.
Thus, it is important to find out what allergies your child may have. A normal reaction can worsen in a short time, anywhere from a mere few seconds to two hours after exposure.
It should be noted that while most allergies in children are common, there are also a number of uncommon, or rare types of allergies.
What are the Symptoms of Child Allergies?
Symptoms of common child allergies differ based on the substance (or allergen) that causes it. These symptoms mainly affect the eyes, lungs, skin, digestive tract, ears, nose. and throat.
They can include one or more of the following:
- Itching (nose, eyes, or palate)
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Watery and red or swollen eyes
- Cramps and discomfort
- Nausea or vomiting
Food allergies are manifested as:
- Swollen lips, tongue, throat or face
- Tingling sensation in the mouth
Allergies caused by insect bites and/or stings may result in:
- Swelling at the site of bite or sting
- Itching or hives
- The tightness of the chest
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
Symptoms of common child allergies due to the intake of drugs may include:
- Itchy skin
- Swelling of the face
The most serious form of allergic reactions, anaphylaxis, can manifest in the following:
- Loss of consciousness
- Drop in blood pressure
- Extreme shortness of breath
- Quick, weak pulse
- Nausea and vomiting
Anaphylaxis shock is deemed an emergency. If your child is experiencing any of the aforementioned, head to the doctor immediately.
Your child is more prone to developing one or more allergies if there is a family history of asthma or allergies (including hay fever, hives, eczema). Children are also more likely to contract allergies. Another risk factor is having an existing allergy or asthma.
Prevention & Treatment
When Should I Bring My Child to the Doctor?
If your child is experiencing symptoms or you suspect an allergy, consult your doctor. Usually, the first line of action will be over-the-counter medications. But if these do not work, check with your doctor. Head to the hospital if your child shows signs of anaphylaxis.
Detecting childhood allergies early is key. Allergists are typically consulted for a management plan.
How Are Common Child Allergies Diagnosed?
The doctor normally takes notes of signs and symptoms, does physical exams, and asks for your cooperation in keeping track of symptoms and possible triggers. For suspected food allergies, the doctor may request you to keep a food diary.
The following allergy tests can also be done to help in diagnosis and treatment:
Skin tests. A doctor will prick the skin, inserting into it a small amount of proteins from the potential allergens. A raised bump (hive) appearing at the test site will indicate that the patient is positive for that allergy.
IgE/ RAST Tests. Blood tests, known as specific IgE (Immunoglobulin E) blood testing or radioallergosorbent test (RAST), measure how much allergy-causing antibodies there are in the bloodstream. A sample is taken to test for sensitivity to possible allergens.
Keep in mind that the information here should not be substituted as medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How Are Common Child Allergies Treated?
The following modes of treatment can alleviate allergies:
- The doctor will guide you in identifying and avoiding allergy triggers. This is usually very effective in preventing attacks and reducing symptoms.
- Medication can be prescribed to reduce the symptoms.
- Children suffering from severe allergies, or those not fully eased by treatment, may be referred to immunotherapy. Your doctor should discuss this with you. It usually involves the administration of a series of purified allergen extract injections stretched out over a few years. Another type of immunotherapy is administered under the tongue (sublingual).
- Some cases may require emergency epinephrine shots (e.g., Auvi-Q, EpiPen) to be on hand all the time in the event of a serious reaction. This will alleviate the symptoms until emergency help arrives.
There are things you can do for your child to avoid triggering common child allergies:
- Control dust mites by washing beddings regularly and opting for beddings made from synthetic fibers rather than down, feathers or cotton.
- To manage animal dander (protein found in saliva, urine and flakes of skin), keep your pet out of your home and bedroom.
- Control pests by closing open gaps in windows, doors, drains, and floorboards; keeping food in airtight containers; removing pet dishes once done;and keeping kitchen surfaces food- and dirt-free.
- Clean mold with bleach solutions
- Use exhaust fans and dehumidifiers
- Do not store clothes in damp places
- Avoid airborne irritants by avoiding smoking, paint fumes, perfumes, and strong odors of cleaning products.
For food allergies, these suggestions may be helpful:
- Always read labels and check for potential allergens
- Be careful when cooking. Make sure your environment is free of allergens
- When eating out, let your server or the manager of the restaurant know about your child’s allergy, so that dishes can be prepared accordingly
- Have your child wear a medical ID bracelet with relevant information about their allergies
- Create an action plan in case your child ingests allergens
- Always carry medication, if any, especially epinephrine shots.
Whether dealing with uncommon or common child allergies, it is advised to monitor how often these attacks occur and what are the triggers. By determining possible allergens, parents can effectively prevent allergic episodes. Always consult your doctor regarding the best preventive measures and treatments.
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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.