Allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to a substance that is present in the environment and harmless to most people. In someone with an allergy, the body’s immune system treats the substance (called an allergen) as an invader and reacts inappropriately, resulting in allergic symptoms.
Allergy can occur in any child and at any age but those with a family history of allergy are more predisposed. Also the kids who have allergy to one substance are more likely to develop other forms of allergy also.
- Mold spores
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
- Food – peanuts, eggs, seafood and wheat are common food allergens
- Insect stings
Signs and symptoms
The type and severity of allergy symptoms vary from allergy to allergy and child to child. Common symptoms are –
- Itchy nose/throat
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy/red eyes
- Skin rash
- Trouble breathing
- No permanent cure for allergies.
- Some medications can be given for providing relief from symptoms.
- The best way to help a child with allergy is to reduce or eliminate exposure to allergens.
- Inform all your child’s caregivers about his/her allergy.
- Use protective covers on bedding and pillows to control dust mites.
- Limit stuffed animals in your child’s room.
- Vacuum and dust your home often.
- Remove carpets or rugs from your child’s room.
- Do not use heavy drapes or curtains which can collect dust.
- Limit exposure to indoor pets early in your child’s life. Keep pets away from child’s bedroom and bathe them frequently if possible.
- Delay exposure to potentially allergenic foods, such as peanuts, eggs and wheat.
- Delay solid foods especially wheat products until 6 months of age, then follow a suggested regimen for introducing new foods.
- Reduce and eliminate maternal smoking during and after pregnancy.
- Avoid day care for very young children.
- Keep windows closed at night to keep pollens or molds out. If you can, use air conditioning, which also helps to clean and dry the air.
- For kids allergic to pollens limit early morning activity — between 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. — when pollen counts are highest. Change their clothes after they have been outside.
- Keep children who are allergic to mold away from damp places like basements, and keep bathrooms clean and dry.
- Keep car windows closed when travelling.
- Keep your child indoors as much as possible when the pollen count, wind, or humidity is high.
- Don’t dry clothes or sheets on an outdoor clothesline — pollen and molds can collect on linens.