Every parent wishes their child to grow strong, healthy, and free from discomfort. But what happens when your child suddenly shows signs of an unexpected sneeze, rash, or itch?
With an ever-evolving environment and changing lifestyles, understanding when and how children develop allergies is more relevant than ever. Continue reading to discover the causes, symptoms, and treatments.
Understanding Allergies by Age
Allergies in children can begin to manifest at any age, but some specific patterns are usually discernible across different childhood stages.
- Infants: Between the ages of 1 and 2, children can start exhibiting signs of allergies, primarily to indoor allergens. These include household culprits like dust mites, mold, and animal dander.
- Toddlers: The ages between 2 and 3 become crucial for the development of seasonal allergies. In toddlers, you can start seeing the emergence of seasonal allergies, or hay fever, which cause inflammation of the nasal passages. The trigger allergens are usually tree pollen, grass pollen, and ragweed pollen, but these are relatively rare in babies.
- Pre-teens and older: As children grow older, into pre-teens and beyond, their allergy patterns become more defined. In some cases, new allergens can be introduced, or old ones can fade away.
Regardless of their age, early detection and management of allergies can significantly improve your child's quality of life.
Common Types of Allergies in Children
Here's a snapshot of the common allergies children may face:
- Pollen allergies: Children are often exposed to pollen allergens from grasses, trees, and weeds while spending time outdoors. These outdoor allergens can trigger symptoms of hay fever, also called allergic rhinitis.
- Indoor allergies: Mold, often found in damp areas, can potently trigger allergic reactions. Dust mites, tiny creatures that thrive in bedding and upholstery, can cause sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy eyes. Pet allergies are also a common form of indoor allergy, and they come from pet dander, saliva, and urine.
- Food allergies: Children may encounter potential allergens as they explore new foods. Nuts, both peanuts and tree nuts, can cause severe allergic reactions in some children. Eggs and dairy products, specifically milk and products derived from them, can also lead to digestive issues, skin irritations, or respiratory problems in allergic kids.
- Insect sting allergies: Insect bites and stings can cause localized swelling or anaphylactic reactions in more severe cases.
- Other irritants: Beyond the typical allergens, children can also react to everyday substances. Detergents and cleaners, often with strong chemicals, can lead to skin reactions. Perfumes and smoke from cigarettes or vaping devices can irritate your child’s respiratory system.
Identifying Environmental Allergy Symptoms in Kids
Environmental allergy symptoms in children occur when their immune system responds to substances, called allergens, as though they are harmful. In most cases, you’ll notice that they are similar to the symptoms your child will have when they have common colds or other respiratory infections, making them difficult to diagnose without professional advice.
Your child may have allergy symptoms such as:
- Frequent sneezing
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Postnasal drip
- Itchy, red, or watery eyes
- Itchy throat or inner ears
- Rash or hives
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest tightness
In response to airborne allergens, some children may develop allergic conjunctivitis, an eye condition that causes redness and inflammation. Persistent ear infections and sinusitis can also be signs of environmental allergies in children. Some children will have eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, which causes dry, flaky, itchy skin that may develop into painful, red patches.
Toddlers' allergy symptoms often manifest in their behavior. They may rub their nose frequently and appear unusually tired, restless, or irritable, especially during specific times of the year or in certain environments.
Allergy Testing for Kids
If your child has allergic reactions, allergy testing will help you pinpoint the exact allergens causing these symptoms. Instead of playing a guessing game, allergy tests can provide a clear and accurate diagnosis of the specific allergens causing reactions. This aids in better understanding a child's health and tailoring appropriate treatment plans.
The two common allergy testing options for kids are:
Skin Prick Testing
Skin prick testing is one of the most common diagnostic tests for allergies in children. You have to take your child to an allergist for the skin test procedures, which involve introducing a tiny amount of potential allergens to the child’s skin, typically the forearm or back. A raised bump or slight redness will appear at the test site if your child is allergic.
At-Home Testing Using Wyndly’s Kit
Navigating the journey of allergy testing has become more accessible than ever with at-home testing kits. At-home allergy tests require a finger prick to collect a small blood sample that is sent to labs for analysis to identify exactly what you’re allergic to. Wyndly’s at-home allergy testing kit allows children five years of age or older to take the assessment in the comfort of their homes, making the process less intimidating and more child-friendly.
Instead of multiple skin pricks common in traditional tests, Wyndly's kit uses a simple finger prick to collect a small blood sample. This sample is robust enough to test for 40+ of the most prevalent indoor and outdoor environmental allergens, such as pollen, pet dander, and dust mites.
Once you've submitted the sample, you'll soon receive a comprehensive breakdown of your child's unique allergy profile. Wyndly’s allergy doctors will also devise a personalized allergy management plan to provide long-term relief for your child's allergy symptoms.
The Benefits of Sublingual Immunotherapy
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) has emerged as a cutting-edge approach to allergy treatment, especially beneficial for children. It involves placing a small tablet or liquid form of an allergen under the tongue, allowing it to be absorbed by the oral mucosa. Over time, regular administration helps the immune system become more accustomed to it, reducing the severity of allergic reactions or eliminating them.
For children, the benefits of SLIT are manifold. First, it's a less invasive treatment than allergy shots, making it a more comfortable and less intimidating option for kids. Gradually introducing the allergen in controlled doses helps build tolerance, decreasing sensitivity and allergic symptoms. This can significantly improve a child's quality of life by reducing the frequency and intensity of allergy flare-ups.
Unlike allergy shots that require frequent long doctor’s appointments, SLIT can be taken at home, making it convenient for families. In the long run, sublingual immunotherapy offers a more sustained and effective solution than many other allergy medication options.
When to Seek Medical Advice
Recognizing when to seek medical advice for allergies is crucial for your children's health. Any sign of a severe allergic reaction, such as anaphylaxis, should prompt immediate medical intervention.
Symptoms of anaphylaxis can include:
- Low blood pressure
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the face and throat
- Severe skin rash
- Nausea or vomiting
It's also advisable to seek medical advice if allergic symptoms persist, disrupt daily activities, or if over-the-counter medications don't relieve them. Additionally, if a child has a history of severe reactions or if there's uncertainty about the severity of an allergy, it's always better to err on the side of caution and consult with a healthcare professional.
Tips for Managing Your Kid’s Allergies at School and Social Settings
Managing your child's allergies, especially in school and social settings, requires proactive measures, clear communication, and some strategic planning. Here are some tips to help ensure your child remains safe:
- Open dialogue with school staff: Before the school year begins, meet with teachers, the school nurse, and cafeteria staff. Provide them with a clear understanding of your child's allergies, potential triggers, and the necessary steps in case of exposure.
- Emergency action plan: Create a written emergency action plan detailing symptoms to watch for, the steps to take in case of an allergic reaction, and emergency contact numbers. Share this with the school and anyone else responsible for your child.
- Provide medication: Ensure your child can access essential medications, like antihistamines or an EpiPen. Ensure that the school staff knows how and when to use them.
- Prepare a safe snack box: Prepare a box of safe snacks for your child. This ensures your child has a guaranteed allergy-safe option if there's a celebration or snack time.
- Educate your child: If your child is old enough to understand, teach them about their allergy, helping them recognize symptoms and understand the importance of avoiding specific triggers. Role-play scenarios where they might have to explain their allergies to friends or teachers.
- Plan for field trips: For outdoor allergies, plan for field trips and ensure your child has access to their medication. Encourage them to avoid known allergens where possible.
- Allergy ID: Consider having your child wear a medical ID bracelet, which can alert others to their allergies in case of an emergency.
- Keep up routine doctor visits: Regular check-ups with your child's allergist can help keep symptoms in check and ensure that their allergy action plan is up-to-date.
Take Our Allergy Assessment and Get Treatment Today
If you’re tired of allergies interfering with your child’s quality of life and they are five years old or older, it’s time to work with Wyndly. Our experienced allergy doctors will start by understanding your child’s allergy profile, then create a personalized treatment plan to ensure they get long-term relief from allergies. Take our allergy assessment to determine whether your child is the right candidate for Wyndly’s allergy treatment.