Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Allergies in Children

16 Jan 2018 15:05
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If you have an allergic child, you are not alone. Allergies are one of the most common long-term disorders in children. Allergies come in many forms and degree of severity.
Allergies range from uncomfortable, to activity-limiting to, occasionally, life-threatening. The more you know about them and about treating them, the safer and healthier your child will be.

An allergic person is someone who reacts to substances that do not produce harmful effects in the majority of people. These substances are called allergens. People come into contact with allergens either by breathing, eating or touching them or by having them injected into their skins or veins. The most common allergens are tree pollen, grasses, and weeds, molds, house dust, animal products such as dander (skin scales) or saliva, insect bites and stings, food and drugs.

Cause

When a foreign substance (allergen) enters the body of an allergic child, it causes a response which we call an allergy. Allergens prompt the body to produce proteins called antibodies. The allergen and antibody react together on the surface of "mast cells" which are found in the lining of the nose, lungs, skin, and intestines. The mast cells then release chemicals that cause inflammation in various parts of the body:

  • In the nose, there is swelling of the lining with mucus production. (This condition is called hay fever or allergic rhinitis).
  • In the chest, there may be swelling and mucus production in the breathing tubes (bronchi) leading to the lungs along with spasm of these tubes (asthma).
  • In the skin, inflammatory changes may develop in the form of eczema or urticaria (nettle-rash)
  • Stomach upsets such as diarrhea, vomiting and/or bloating may be indicative of allergic reactions.
  • Shock-like reactions or complete collapse (anaphylaxis) may develop as well, depending on the severity of the above reactions.

Approximately 10 to 20% of the population has some kind of allergy. Anyone can get allergies regardless of age, race or sex. However, allergies are more common in young children than in adults. Asthma is found in 5 to 10% of children, hay fever in 7 percent and 6 percent of children have other allergic diseases such as eczema, urticaria e.t.c.

Allergies can be inherited. The tendency to develop allergies is inherited. If both you and your spouse have allergies, your child has a 60 to 75% chance of developing an allergic tendency. If only one of you is allergic, then there is a 25 to 50% chance. If neither of you has allergies, then there is a 10 percent chance. A child is not necessarily born with the same allergy as the parents have; the child may have asthma although the father has hay fever and the mother eczema.

Children with allergies do tend to get better as they grow older. However, some keep their allergies most of their lives although usually in a milder form. Unfortunately, doctors cannot tell whether or not your child will "grow out" of his or her allergies or when this might happen.

Treatment

Allergies can be treated in three main ways:

i) Drugs: There are numerous medications available to both prevent and provide relief from allergic problems. Some children require occasional use of these drugs and others require much more long-term drug therapy.

ii) Changing the environment is a major form of treatment. It is very important to reduce your child's exposure to the allergens that cause problems and also to the things that may irritate him or her.

iii) Allergy injections help a few people who are allergic to specific unavoidable things in their environment such as insect stings or pollen from trees, grass or weed.

Raising an allergic child may be trying at times. Fortunately, recent advances in the treatment of allergies mean that the vast majority of allergy suffers, even those with severe asthma can lead close to normal lives. Read the articles on AllergyHacks for simple home remedies.

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