Children and Allergies: Who has allergies and why?


Allergies in Children

With coughing, sneezing, itching and vomiting only being a few, children with allergies can face various miserable symptoms, making their life difficult. Allergies in children may be precipitated due to various reasons, including seasonal changes, different kinds of food, changes in the place of stay etc.

Allergies usually begin depicting symptoms during infancy or early childhood. Severe allergies can interfere with the day to day functioning of your child and affect his/her sleep pattern, general behavior, mood, academic performances and so on. There may be a difference in the symptoms depicted by children as they grow older. However, early identification of allergies in children will help to control the symptoms by identifying the cause and thus improve their quality of life. In order to aid the same, it is important for parents to learn about common allergy triggers in children. They are;

  • Food – milk and milk products, peanuts, seafood
  • Outdoor irritants – dust, pollution, pollen, bites or stings
  • Indoor irritants – animal or pet dander, dust from carpets, chalk dust
  • Other triggers – perfume, smoke, some medicines, household chemicals, incense

An allergy is caused when an individual’s immune system overreacts and responds inappropriately to an otherwise harmless substance when consumed or comes in contact with the body. A substance causing the reaction is called allergen and the reaction itself is called allergy.

The most common allergies seen in children are;

Food allergies – are the most common form of allergies in children. Some of the foods that children are found to be allergic to are eggs, milk/milk products, peanuts, nuts and fish. In some cases, children outgrow their allergy to certain food items while some continue to have them. Food allergies often cause reactions like eczema, itching, urticaria, diarrhea, vomiting etc.

Asthma – Unlike adults, children are more susceptible to triggers of asthma attack, especially because they do not have the same level of awareness about the triggers and their windpipes are smaller. Dust, pollution and second hand smoke are the primary causes of asthma in children. Persistent cough, sneezing, running nose, blocked nose are common symptoms that we always associate with cold and flu, but are also symptoms that parents must keep a watch on.

Hay fever – also called allergic rhinitis, is one of the most common allergic manifestation seen in children. Asthma and allergic rhinitis are related health conditions, hence, similar to that of asthma, persistent cough, blocked or runny nose, breathing through the mouth etc. are depictive of allergic rhinitis as well. However, since these symptoms are misleading, the condition often goes undiagnosed. Children with this condition are most likely to develop asthma, hence are advised to get checked for the same.

Eczema – affects a number of babies worldwide. It is also known as a disease of the childhood since it begins during childhood and generally gets better with age. It causes the skin to become patchy, flaky, dry and itchy, if not treated properly which could also cause bleeding and secondary infections of the skin. There are various causes to eczema, the main being dryness. Dryness in the surroundings, some foods, pet dander etc. can all cause skin rashes. The condition is particularly common if asthma or any specific food allergies run in the family.

On a daily basis, allergies may cause difficulties in the routine life of children because they could possibly miss out on days from school which may affect their overall academic performance. It may also restrict kids from engaging in outdoor activities. It is essential for parents to understand and identify the triggers in their children at an early stage in order to aid early diagnosis and prevention.

Symptoms to watch out for;

  • Since some allergies present with misleading symptoms, you may not be able to identify the exact cause of the allergy, however keeping a close note of things that happened, what works for your child and what doesn’t is important.
  • Symptoms on the skin are clearly noticeable, hence make sure to check for any visible symptoms like dryness, itchiness, scaly or patchy skin. Hives, swelling or bumps on the skin that lasts for more than a few days or if recurrent must be checked with a specialist.
  • Notice your child’s breathing, check if your child experiences shortness of breath or makes a noise while breathing or keep their mouth open while breathing.
  • Excessive fatigue and long lasting diarrhea are also symptoms of allergies.
  • Persistent cough and sneezing particularly if not associated with fever and lasts for more than usual days must be reported to a specialist in order to check for the possible causes of an allergic reaction.

Allergies in children can sometimes be dangerous. Milder attacks tend to go away with time, however some major and long lasting frequent attacks if left unidentified can cause severe health concerns in the future.

Dr. Abdul Majeed, Specialist Paediatrician

Dr. Abdul Majeed

Specialist Paediatrician 

Aster Hospital, Mankhool

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