Conditions & Treatments
Allergies are among the most common heath problems, with more than 50 million people afflicted with asthma, seasonal hay fever, or other allergy-related conditions each year. Allergies can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic class. Generally, allergies are more common in children, however, a first-time occurrence can happen at any age, or recur after many years of remission. There is a tendency for allergies to occur in families, although the exact genetic factors that cause it are not yet understood. Listed in the directory below are some common allergic conditions in the growing child, for which we have provided a brief overview.
What is allergic rhinitis?
Boy rubbing his eyes
Rhinitis is a reaction that occurs in the nose when airborne irritants (allergens) trigger the release of histamine. Histamine causes itching, inflammation, and fluid or mucous production in the fragile linings of nasal passages, sinuses, and eyelids.
There is usually a family history of allergic rhinitis.
What are the types of allergic rhinitis?
The two categories of allergic rhinitis include:
Seasonal. This type occurs particularly during pollen seasons.
Perennial. This type occurs throughout the year and is commonly seen in younger children.
What are the causes of allergic rhinitis?
The most common causes of allergic rhinitis include the following:
Pollen (for example, tree, grass, or weed) Dust mites Mold Cockroach droppings Animal dander Tobacco smoke
What are the symptoms of allergic rhinitis?
The following are the most common symptoms of allergic rhinitis. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
Sneezing Congestion Runny nose Itchy nose, throat, eyes, and ears Nosebleeds Clear drainage from the nose Children with perennial allergic rhinitis may also have the following: Recurrent ear infections Snoring Breathing through the mouth Poor performance in school
"Allergic salute." This is when a child rubs his or her hand upward across the bridge of the nose while sniffing. This may cause a line or crease to form across the bridge of the nose.
The symptoms of allergic rhinitis may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's health care provider for a diagnosis.
How is allergic rhinitis diagnosed?
Typically, the diagnosis is made by your child's health care provider based on a thorough medical history and physical examination. In addition to the above symptoms, your child's health care provider may find, on physical examination, dark circles under the eyes, creases under the eyes, and swollen tissue inside the nose. If this is the case, then your child's doctor may refer your child to see an allergist. An allergist is a specialist who is trained to perform allergy skin testing, which will tell you exactly what environmental aeroallergens cause allergic symptoms in your child.
Treatment for allergic rhinitis
Specific treatment for allergic rhinitis will be determined by your child's health care provider based on: Your child's age, overall health, and medical history Extent of the reaction Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies Expectations for the course of the reaction Your opinion or preference Treatment options may include: Avoidance of the allergens. Avoidance of the allergens that are causing the problem is the best treatment.
Traditional antihistamines. Antihistamines help to decrease the release of histamine, possibly decreasing the symptoms of itching, sneezing, or runny nose. Some examples of antihistamines are diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or hydroxyzine (Atarax). These medications may cause drowsiness. Consult your child's health care provider to determine the proper dosage for your child.
Nonsedating antihistamines. Nonsedating antihistamines are also antihistamines but without the side effect of drowsiness. Nonsedating antihistamines may include cetirizine (Zyrtec), loratadine (Claritin), or fexofenadine (Allegra). Consult your child's health care provider to determine the proper dosage for your child.
Anti-inflammatory nasal sprays. Anti-inflammatory nasal sprays help to decrease the swelling in the nose. Consult your child's health care provider to determine the proper dosage for your child.
Corticosteroid nasal sprays. Corticosteroid nasal sprays also help to decrease the swelling in the nose. Corticosteroid nasal sprays work best when used before the symptoms start, but can also be used during a flare-up. Consult your child's health care provider to determine the proper dosage for your child.
Anti-leukotrienes. These are a relatively new type of medication being used to control the symptoms of asthma and allergic rhinitis. These medications help to decrease congestion in the chest and nose and are usually given by mouth.
Note: Talk with your child's health care provider before giving a decongestant to help relieve his or her symptoms.
If your child does not respond to avoidance or to the above medications, your child's allergist then may recommend immunotherapy based on the findings. Immunotherapy usually involves a three- to five-year course of repeated injections of specific allergens to decrease the reaction to these allergens when your child comes into contact with them. Consult your child's health care provider for more information.
How is allergic rhinitis prevented?
Preventive measures for avoiding allergic rhinitis include: Environmental controls, such as air conditioning, during pollen season Avoiding areas where there is heavy dust, mites, molds Avoiding pets The link between allergic rhinitis and asthma
Controlling asthma may mean controlling allergic rhinitis in some patients, according to allergy and asthma experts. Allergic rhinitis is a common problem that may be associated with asthma.
Guidelines from the World Health Organization recognize the link between allergic rhinitis and asthma. Although the link is not fully understood, one theory asserts that rhinitis makes it difficult to breathe through the nose, which hampers the normal function of the nose. Breathing through the mouth does not warm the air, or filter or humidify it before it enters the lungs, which can make asthma worse.
What is food allergy?
A food allergy is an abnormal response of the body's immune system to certain foods. This is not the same as food intolerance, although some of the symptoms may be very similar.
What causes food allergies?
A person must be exposed to the food at least once before the allergic symptoms occur. At that time, the immune system releases IgE antibodies that react to the food. Histamines are released, which cause allergy symptoms such as hives, asthma, itching in the mouth, trouble breathing, stomach pains, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Which foods most often cause food allergies?
About 90% of all food allergies are caused by 8 foods, that include:
Milk Eggs Wheat Soy Tree nuts Fish Shellfish Peanuts Some facts about food allergies: Eggs, milk, and peanuts are the most common causes of food allergies in children Peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish commonly cause the most severe reactions. Nearly 5% of children under the age of 5 years have food allergies. From 1997 to 2007, food allergies increased 18% among children under age 18 years. Most children "outgrow" their allergies, however, allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish may be lifelong. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, it doesn't take much food to cause a severe allergic reaction -- 1/44,000 of a peanut can cause a severe reaction in a highly allergic person. What are the symptoms of food allergies? Allergic symptoms may begin within minutes to an hour after eating the food. The following are the most common symptoms of a food allergy. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include: Swelling, itching of lips and mouth Tightness in the throat or hoarse voice Nausea and vomiting Diarrhea and cramps Hives, or itchy, raised bums Swelling of the skin Itching The symptoms of a food allergy may look like other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis. What are severe symptoms of food allergy? Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction. It is life-threatening. Symptoms can include those above as well as the following: Trouble breathing or wheezing Flushing of the skin Itching of palms, soles of feet Feeling faint Nausea Fast pulse Low blood pressure Loss of consciousness
Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency. Call 911 for immediate medical assistance. Severe allergic reactions are treated with epinephrine. Those with known severe allergies should carry emergency kits with self-injecting epinephrine or Epi-pens.
Treatment for food allergies in adults
The goal of treatment is to avoid the food that causes the allergic symptoms. There is no medication to prevent food allergies, although research is ongoing.
You need to be prepared should you eat something with the food that causes your allergic reaction. You may need an emergency kit to stop severe reactions. Make sure you talk with your health care provider about what you should do.
There are medications available for some symptoms caused by food allergy after the food has been eaten. Discuss available medications with your doctor.
Treatment of food allergies in children
As in adults, it is very important to avoid these foods that cause allergies. If you are breastfeeding your child, it is important that you avoid foods to which your child is allergic.
You may need to give vitamins to your child if he or she is unable to eat certain foods. Discuss this with your child's doctor.
Your child's doctor may also prescribe an emergency kit. Be sure to ask your child's doctor about an emergency kit if you don't already have one.
Some children under the supervision of their doctor, may be given certain foods after a period of 3 to 6 months. This determines whether or not the child has outgrown the allergy.