How Can I Help My Child with Allergies?
Every parent can help his child when he/she knows as much info as possible about this disease.
What is an allergy?
Allergy is a protective body reaction. When a dangerous substance enters our body, the body tries to destroy it: this is how we protect ourselves from the disease. But sometimes it happens that the body tries too hard and its attempts to deprive the trigger harm our bode much. Therefore, various non-hazardous substances cause an immune response and inflammatory reactions.
The most dangerous and common allergens:
- pollen of plants;
- dust mites;
- coat and skin of animals;
- food products;
- insect bites;
- household chemicals and cosmetics;
- dyes, preservatives and other food additives.
In young children, allergies are quite common, because the child’s body still cannot properly process certain proteins. Therefore, children are carefully administered complementary foods and are not give certain foods until a certain age. Over time, the child may stop food allergy having no reaction to milk, soy, eggs. But some types of allergies remain for the whole life.
Allergies can be inherited. If both parents suffer from allergies, then the child will have it with a probability of 60–70%.
How does an allergy manifest in a child?
Symptoms are different. They depend on the type of allergen and on individual reactions. Here’s how different organs and systems react to allergens:
- leather: the skin turns red, itches and peels. There are spots, rash, sometimes swelling.
- eyes: they itch, blush.
- respiratory system: most often, allergic rhinitis is observed, nasal congestion, cough, it becomes difficult to breathe.
- stomach and intestines. Due to allergens, stomach ache, vomiting or diarrhea appear.
In allergies, anaphylactic shock is most dangerous – a condition in which the tongue, neck or face swells, the voice becomes rough, difficulty breathing is observed. A person turns pale, poorly oriented in space and may lose consciousness. In this case, you need to call an ambulance immediately.
How to distinguish allergies from other problems?
Diagnosis of allergies begins with a detailed survey: the doctor must understand what potential allergens the child has encountered recently. The doctor will ask many questions that need to be answered honestly and in detail.
After the survey, the doctor checks which allergens have a reaction. They do this in two main ways.
Skin tests. The forearm skin is scratched by an allergen extract. Through a scratch, the allergen enters the bloodstream, the reaction shows which substances trigger the symptoms. The result of this test is noticeable 20-30 minutes after the trial start. Sometimes, instead of scratches, injections or applications are made with a solution of allergen extract. In order for the examination to be reliable, it is impossible to take allergy medications before it for several days – they must leave the body.
Contraindications to skin tests:
- exacerbation of allergies;
- exacerbation of other chronic diseases;
- infections (that is, if a child has caught the virus, samples are not made).
These tests can be done at any age. Toddlers are tested for a small number of allergens. The results can change as the child grows. So the samples should be redone when the child is at least 5 years old.
Blood test. Blood is taken for this examination, as for most other tests. You will have to wait for the results for a few days. A blood test is a way out when it is impossible to make an allergy test.
The task of other examinations is to exclude diseases that pretend to be allergies. For breathing difficulties, asthma is suspected and lung function is tested, with a stuffy nose, sinusitis (sinus infection) and an x-ray are conducted.
Antihistamines are used to treat allergies. Histamine is a special compound that is usually stored inside cells in a rest state. During an allergic reaction, histamine leaves the cells and triggers an inflammatory reaction. Medications should prevent this: neutralize histamine and prevent it from leaving the cell again.
There are many antihistamines. Old ones have more side effects than new ones. For example, they cause drowsiness or dryness of the mucous membranes. For kids, drops have been invented that are more convenient to take than tablets. There are ointments that are used for symptoms of skin allergies.
We do not specifically name drugs, because they are sold freely. But we recommend the doctor should choose the treatment regimen, especially for children.
Is there allergy prevention?
To some extent, allergies can be prevented. Sometimes a violent reaction of children to food, wool or fabric is associated only with the fact that children’s organs still do not work well enough. This is the norm because the child must grow and develop gradually.
An allergy to many substances can go away as it is because the liver and immunity begin to work at full strength. Sometimes they even say that children outgrow the disease. Therefore, the task of parents is to make sure that during the period of growth, especially for up to 3 years, the child meets as few allergens as possible.