Common Allergy Symptoms in Kids
About 50 million Americans have allergies, and it’s the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the nation. It’s estimated that 40 percent of children have allergies, and allergies can get in the way of school and other activities. How do you know if your child is suffering from allergies? There are some common symptoms that are fairly easy to spot.
Children tend to have different types of allergies at different ages. Younger children are prone to skin allergies and rashes. Older children, however, are more likely to have respiratory allergies that cause coughing and wheezing.
What is an allergy? Allergic reactions happen when a person’s immune system misidentifies a normal substance as something harmful. This substance, an allergen, doesn’t bother people who aren’t allergic to it. For a person with allergies, however, the allergen triggers reactions, as the immune system goes to battle with it.
Children with respiratory allergies may have runny, itchy, red, or swollen eyes for more than a week and a chronic runny nose. The child may complain of itchy ears or an itchy mouth or throat. These symptoms may be hay fever or allergic rhinitis, which is the most common form of allergy among children. If your child tends to get this kind of symptoms, notice if they recur each year at the same time of year.
Respiratory allergies can affect a child’s breathing. Listen to your child breathe and notice if there’s a noisy wheeze, rapid breathing, or shortness of breath. If the child has any of these symptoms, it’s time to see the pediatrician. A dry, hacking cough with clear mucus also signifies respiratory allergies. Respiratory allergies often cause sleep disruptions, causing fatigue and listlessness in school age children. Studies show that student with untreated allergies have significantly lower learning scores that their classmates without allergies along with more missed days from school. Further, if you notice that your child tires more easily than usual when playing, the problem may be allergies.
Sometimes, a child’s skin will react to an allergen. Did you know that the skin is not just the body’s largest organ but also part of the immune system? Keep an eye on your little one’s skin, looking for eczema, which looks like dry, red, scaly, itchy patches. Hives, too, are a sign of allergy. Ranging in size from the size of the tip of a pen to the size of a dinner plate, hives are red welts on the skin.
Some allergies can cause trouble with the digestive system. Stomach cramps, repeated diarrhea attacks, headache and fatigue can all point to an allergy. You might also notice a change in your child’s behavior, and an increase in crabby moods or restlessness. Pay attention to what happened right before the symptom occurred, and you might be able to determine the allergen.
Your child could be allergic to your pet’s dander, saliva, urine and fur, and that allergy may be causing sneezing and wheezing. If the problem is a food allergy, it’s likely to be one of the eight foods that contribute to 90 percent of food allergies:
Tree nuts- (almonds, cashews, and walnuts)
Shellfish- (crab, lobster, and shrimp)
In addition, some children can’t tolerate citrus. Sometimes it’s easy to identify an allergen, but often you have to play detective. Allergens can lurk where you don’t expect them, like traces of peanuts in cereal or soy in processed foods.
If you think your child may be suffering from allergies, contact Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM. We’ll help you determine the allergen and how to manage it. When you enlist the help of an experienced, board-certified allergist, you can be confident that your doctor will help you find the solutions you need to combat allergies. At Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM, all physicians are board-certified in allergy and immunology and can help you identify triggers and learn to control your symptoms. Call 610-825-5800 or visit the website for an appointment, or to learn more about services available to help you cope with your child’s allergies.