Allergy symptoms in children can include reactions in areas of the body where immune system cells can be found. These areas include the skin, lining of the stomach, nose, eyes, throat, sinuses and lungs.
Allergy symptoms in children include:
- Red, swollen, itchy eyes that water.
- A stuffed-up or runny nose.
- Itching inside the nose.
- Itching on the roof of the mouth.
- Flushed, dry skin that itches.
- An itchy rash.
- Welts or hives that itch.
- Itching inside his or her ears.
- Asthma symptoms (e.g., shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing).
Symptoms Associated With a Severe Allergic Reaction
A severe allergic reaction that results in the child experiencing anaphylaxis is life-threatening. Therefore, this type of reaction is an emergency and, unless there is an EpiPen® for the child to use, it is crucial that someone call 911.
Signs of anaphylaxis include:
- Shortness of breath.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Inflammation of the tongue or throat.
- Low blood pressure.
An individual experiencing a severe allergic reaction usually has at least two of the symptoms listed above. These symptoms can come on within minutes of exposure to the allergen, or hours later.
Common Allergens for Children
Approximately 40% of children have hay fever (aka seasonal allergies).
Common allergy triggers include:
- The pollen particles of trees, tall grasses and weeds. A well-maintained lawn does not cause allergies, however, grass that grows tall enough to flower releases pollen. It is this pollen that causes allergy symptoms.
- Dust mites.
- Bee stings.
- Pests (e.g., cockroaches).
- The dander (i.e., dead skin cells), sweat, oil, saliva and urine of various animals. Fur can also trap pollen and mold. The most common animals that children have allergies to are dogs and cats.
8 Common Food Allergies
To bring attention to major food allergens, Congress passed a Consumer Protection Act in 2004.
According to the FDA, eight foods are considered major food allergens:
- Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts).
- Shellfish (e.g., shrimp, lobster and crab).
- Fish (i.e., fresh water and saltwater).
Preventing allergies from foods requires avoidance.
Finding Allergy Relief for Kids
The treatment a child receives depends on his or her age, overall health status and the severity of the allergy symptoms.
The three most effective treatments for seasonal allergies are allergy shots, avoidance and daily medication.
A child may be able to receive an allergy shot from his or her pediatrician.
Seasonal Allergy Medications
Decongestants help alleviate the stuffed-up feeling in the nose by decreasing the amount of inflammation in the nasal passages. Decongestants are available in pill form, as eye drops or as a nasal spray.
Antihistamines to stop the body from releasing more histamine, which is the chemical that responds to allergens.
Asthma medication (e.g., an inhaler).
Sublingual immunotherapy (i.e., allergy tablets).
Steroids can reduce inflammation and redness.
Epinephrine (i.e., an EpiPen®) is used when an individual has a severe allergic reaction that could be life-threatening.
Topical treatments can decrease inflammation and reduce the itching sensation on the skin.
Avoidance refers to staying away from the allergen.
Avoid allergens by:
- Controlling the amount of dust in the home.
- Placing a dehumidifier in areas that tend to be damp and clean it often.
- Staying inside on windy days, as well as on days when there is a high pollen count.
- Closing the windows and turning on the air conditioner.
Furthermore, when coming in from outside, the child should shower and change his or her clothing.
Seek Allergy Help from a Provider
Since allergy symptoms in children can resemble other health problems, receiving a diagnosis from an experienced healthcare provider is essential. Working with an allergist or pediatrician can help reduce or eliminate your child’s allergy symptoms.