Millions of children suffer from the effects of allergies and the rate of diagnosed allergy symptoms among this group is increasing rapidly. Allergies result when the body’s immune system overreacts to an otherwise harmless substance.
Common childhood allergies
Airborne allergens are among the most common sources of allergies in people of all ages, including very young children. Common allergens in this group include: dust mites; pollen (hay fever or rose fever); molds; pet dander and cockroaches. Allergic rhinitis is the result of sensitivity to airborne allergens, with symptoms including sneezing; an itchy nose and irritated throat; congestion in the sinuses, and itchy, irritated, watery eyes.
Most of the allergic reactions caused by foods result from eating one or more of the following: milk, specifically cow’s milk, and dairy products made from cow’s milk; eggs; seafood and shellfish; soy; wheat, and peanuts and tree nuts. Peanut allergies are considered one of the most severe and even life-threatening allergies, with many children having reactions not only to peanuts themselves, but also to anything that has been in contact with peanuts, tree nuts or their oils. Symptoms of food allergies range from benign, such as throat and nasal irritation, rashes and hives, to more severe reactions, such as abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing and even anaphylactic shock and death.
Other common allergens include allergies to insect bites or stings, which can cause severe swelling, redness, itching, respiratory problems and even anaphylaxis. Some medicines, such as antibiotics and over-the-counter medications can also cause severe problems. Chemicals found in a variety of cleaning solutions, dyes and pesticides can trigger allergic reactions in children, most often seen as an itchy red rash.
Children often have cross-reaction allergies. A cross-reaction allergy means that an allergy to a single thing results in allergies or possible allergies to other things. For example, a child who is allergic to latex may not be able to eat the fruit of plants with a similar molecular structure, such as bananas and kiwifruit.
What is anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction to an allergen. A child experiencing anaphylaxis may exhibit symptoms including; trouble breathing, swelling of the affected body part, which in the case of a food allergy may be the face, throat, lips and/ or tongue; severe hypotension (low blood pressure), severe hives, dizziness or lightheadedness; unconsciousness and even death. Severe symptoms such as these require very urgent medical treatment.
Though anaphylaxis can occur with any type of allergy, it is most often seen with drug allergies, food allergies and allergies to insect bites and stings. Treatments include CPR and epinephrine, as well as antihistamines and corticosteroids to reduce symptoms.
A variety of medications are used to treat allergies, both over-the-counter and prescription, and most are available at drugstores, with lower-cost Canada drugs available through many online pharmacies. Antihistamines are the most common allergy treatment in both categories and are available as pills, nasal sprays or as eye drops. Decongestants are also used to treat symptoms of seasonal allergies. Steroids help to treat inflammation related to allergies and must be taken regularly, often every day. Bronchodilators, inhaled medications, are used to treat asthma-like symptoms.