Children and Allergies

Allergies That Affect Children

When a child has an allergy, their immune system is overreacting to something that may be harmless to many people. The child’s body produces antibodies that will cause chemicals to be released into their blood stream. These chemicals are what cause an allergic reaction. It has been estimated that tens of millions of children in the United States suffer from some type of allergy. Allergic reactions are responsible for approximately 2 million missed schooldays each year.

Children and Allergies

Airborne Allergens

Dust mites are one of the most common airborne allergens. They are microscopic insects that live all around humans and feed off dead skin cells. They are what cause most children to be allergic to dust. Dust mites can affect children all year. Another common source of allergic reactions is pollen. This comes from grasses, weeds, trees and more. A child’s allergic reactions to this will be seasonal. Mold can also create an allergic reaction from children. It is a common allergen that can be found outside and indoors. Outside, it can be found in rotting leaves or areas where there is poor drainage. Inside, it can be found in poorly ventilated areas such as basements, bathrooms and more. Pet allergens also are a common source of allergies. It is the tiny flakes of fur, feathers or dead skin that can cause children to have an allergic reaction. Some children are also allergic to a pet’s saliva. Children in urban areas may develop an allergic reaction to cockroaches. They can develop asthma and other respiratory problems.

Food Allergens

The American Academy of Allergy estimates that approximately 8 percent of children in the United States have some type of food allergy. One of the most common is food allergies is cow’s milk. Three percent of children are born with an allergic reaction to the proteins present is the milk of a cow. It is also common for infants to be allergic to eggs. Children often outgrow egg allergies. Many children also can be allergic to fish or shellfish as well as both. This type of allergy most children will have their entire lives. It’s also common for children to have a peanut or tree nut allergy. The number of children with peanut allergies seems to be increasing. Tree nuts are walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, almonds and more.

Other Common Allergens

Some children are allergic to insect stings. Some allergic reactions can be swelling and redness at the site of the bite. Other reactions are serious enough to be life-threatening. It’s also common for children to be allergic to certain types of medications. Some medicines prescribed to treat infections can cause an allergic reaction. This can also happen with over-the-counter medications. Many children are allergic to certain chemicals. These chemicals can be found in common items such as laundry detergent, soaps, household cleaners and more.

Allergy Testing

If an allergist suspects a child has an allergy, there are certain tests they can conduct to determine the source. This could involve testing of the blood, skin as well as elimination testing. Skin tests may involve applying a diluted allergen to the top layer of skin. This can be done with a scratch or using a thin needle. This test can be made ineffective if a child is taking certain medications. Once the test is administered, the allergist will wait for approximately 14 minutes to see if there is any reaction. A blood test may be used if a skin test is not able to be used. They are less sensitive than skin tests in determining an allergy. An elimination diet test lasts a week and eliminates foods that an allergists suspect is causing an allergic reaction in a child. It can provide inaccurate results because food allergens may be concealed within processed foods.