Every parent wants their children to be as healthy as possible, but their extensive attempts can only go so far. Any child can develop allergies, which are often hereditary and can’t be avoided. When a child experiences allergies, this is a sign of problems in their immune systems.
Although parents or children can’t avoid allergies, especially in families with a history of them, parents can take necessary steps to relieve allergy symptoms and ensure that they don’t escalate to anything more severe. Identifying allergies early is one of the best ways to improve your child’s quality of life, so it helps to know more about how it happens and what to spot.
How Do Allergies Happen?
Allergies happen when a child’s immune system reacts negatively to something they come in contact with in their immediate environment. Triggers are known as “allergens” and can take many forms, including pollen, certain types of medicine, food, or dust.
A person’s immune system is meant to defend the body against harmful substances that somehow find their way inside. The immune system of people with allergies confuses mild things like pollen and dust and categorizes them as a bodily threat. Antibodies attack these “harmful” substances to protect the person’s health.
However, the invading allergens stick to these antibodies, which are attached to mast cells. This results in the mast cells releasing histamine, which causes an allergic reaction within the body. Where the allergic response happens will depend on where this interaction took place.
For instance, your child might develop nasal allergy symptoms like sneezing if the process occurs near nasal tissue. If it happens near the lungs or in its breathing tubes, the resulting reaction will cause asthmatic symptoms, such as wheezing, trouble breathing, and coughing fits.
Allergies in Children: What are the Odds They’ll Get Them?
In the U.S., allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness, with some cases even resulting in death. They affect about 50 million people in different age groups; allergies were shown to affect 40% of children in the country.
Additionally, since most allergies are hereditary, the likelihood of a child having allergies largely depends on their parents:
- Children with parents who don’t have allergies had a 12% chance of having allergies themselves.
- Children with a single parental allergy showed a probability of 30% to 50%.
- Children with both parents having allergies had a 60% to 80% chance of developing allergies.
What to Look Out for: Signs of Allergy in Children
Although common in young children, parents should still stay vigilant and treat allergies seriously. If you don’t address your child’s allergies, you risk exposing them to medical emergencies and a lower quality of life, depending on the severity of their reactions and what they’re allergic to. In worst-case situations, allergies can even be fatal.
You’ll need to tackle the problem before it spreads to prevent your child’s condition from escalating. This means knowing what to look out for and what the related allergies might be based on symptoms.
Below is a more in-depth discussion of the different things to look out for when dealing with allergies.
A child suddenly suffering from a stuffy nose or watery eyes shows that your child is reacting to something they’re allergic to. These can result in further health concerns, such as constant sneezing, fatigue, and an irritated throat.
Allergic rhinitis is a common allergy condition that inconveniences people and irritates them throughout the day. Commonly known as hay fever, this allergy primarily targets the nose.
Two types of allergic rhinitis exist: seasonal and perennial. Seasonal can occur in spring, summer, or fall and is usually triggered because of airborne dust, mold, and pollen particles. On the other hand, perennial allergic rhinitis happens all year and is primarily a result of dust, pet dander, or mold.
Itchiness is another thing parents should look out for when observing if their child has allergies. An effective way you can check is through your child’s skin. See if you can spot patches that are itchy, red, dry, or scaly to the touch. If you’ve successfully found these somewhere around the body, they might be caused by an allergic reaction.
When allergies cause itchiness, it can be a sign that your child has eczema. This condition causes dry or inflamed skin and is common in young children. Although this isn’t contagious, it lasts for a long time and can be irritable if it flares up. Scratching at the patches can also lead to wounds.
Medical experts advise those with eczema not to touch the affected area to remedy the itchiness and prevent it from worsening. Instead, regular moisturizing can help relieve allergy symptoms and lessen itchiness and irritation.
3. Respiratory issues
Parents should also watch out for when their children suddenly have difficulty breathing, wheezing, or releasing dry coughs. Allergens that cause respiratory issues can have other side effects when you don’t take them seriously. This can lead to fatigue, irritability, and poor sleep quality. For children, this can impact their quality of life significantly.
Aside from allergic rhinitis, your child may have asthma. Common triggers for this include pollen or animal hair. Certain types of food can also cause an allergic reaction in the child’s respiratory system, such as peanuts or seafood.
When your child has asthma, they might have bouts of breathlessness and a tight feeling around the chest. In severe cases, an asthma attack can cause breathing and heart rate to go faster, drowsiness, and fainting.
Children with Allergies: Not the End
Even if parents want their children to be as healthy as possible, some things are beyond their control. While allergies are inherent and most are chronic, that doesn’t mean parents can’t do anything to mitigate the inconvenience and possible pain their children go through.
Identifying allergies early on can help you provide your children with the best possible care and medical solutions to ensure they still get to live the best they can. Of course, one of the best solutions parents should consider is speaking with the child’s doctor to guide them on the appropriate actions to keep their child safe and healthy.