Child allergies 101: Your questions about allergies and children, answered
Could allergies be the cause behind your child's sniffles?
How much do you know about children's allergies? Are you sure your child doesn't have allergies? Allergy expert Dr. Kristine Gutierrez recently spoke to TheAsianParent about children’s allergies and how to prevent them. Here are some of her answers to your questions on ParentTown.
(Dr. Gutierrez's answers have edited for clarity and length.)
First of all, what is an allergy?
Allergies are an overreaction of our body to things we commonly see in the environment. They can manifest themselves through skin rashes, teary eyes, a runny nose, trouble breathing, among many other symptoms. A serious, life-threatening allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis.
People who have allergies develop IgE (Immunoglobulin E) antibodies to common things like dust, pets, pollen, and certain foods. There are two kinds of allergens:
- inhalant allergens (e.g. dust mites, pollen)
- food allergens (e.g. eggs, peanuts)
What are the most common food allergens?
In SouthEast Asia, the most common allergens are:
- cow’s milk
- fish and shellfish
But if we're talking on a more global scale, you can add these to the list:
- tree nuts
We shouldn't avoid these foods altogether, however. We can introduce these foods to our child one by one to see if they have an allergic reaction. This would usually manifest itself in 15 to 20 minutes. (For tips on how to safely introduce foods to your child, read this article.)
It's best to go to an allergist, who can administer tests to confirm if your child has or does not have certain allergies.
At what point do children start to outgrow their allergies?
There are certain food allergies that are rarely outgrown, such as allergies to shellfish, fish, peanut. However, cow milk allergies and egg allergies can be outgrown, usually at around 1 to 3 years old.
How can I tell whether my child has an allergy or the common cold?
Usually, if it’s an allergy, it occurs in the morning and is gone in the afternoon and at night. When they sneeze more than 5 times in the morning, usually that’s an allergy. You have sneezing, colds, and nasal itchiness.
When it’s a common cold, it would be there the whole day. And you would have other symptoms like fever and body aches as well.
What is the "atopic march"?
The atopic march is a natural progression of allergic disease. Allergies in babies, for example, usually manifest in diarrhea and eczema at first. Then, as they get older, they could have symptoms such as bronchial asthma, which can then evolve to sniffles or allergic rhinitis.
To learn more about allergy prevention in children, listen to all of Dr. Gutierrez's answers by watching the whole video. If you have any more questions about allergies, feel free to post them on ParentTown.
(Lead photo: penreyes/Flickr)