Allergy or allergic reactions are basically the immune system’s sensitivity towards an otherwise benign source in the environment.

It can therefore be said that allergies stem from a combination of factors – genes as well as environmental exposure. Most allergies in the body surface after the child is five to six years old. Before that, asthma is the most common manifestation of allergic reactions in the body.

Allergies are of three types:
Allergy in the nasal tract:
Most common symptoms of nasal allergies are- runny or stuffy nose, itching palate, frequent sneezing etc.
Allergy in the chest: Most common symptoms of chest allergy are-  cough, wheezing and difficulty in breathing.
Allergy in the eyes: Most common symptoms of eye allergies are-redness in the eyes, itchy or runny eyes.

Causes of allergies:
The most common causes triggering allergic reactions in kids are:

  • pollens from trees, flowers and weeds
  • animal dander and hair
  • pollution, smog, dust mites, cockroaches
  • food sources like-wheat, milk, peanuts, eggs etc.

Usually food allergies surface in babies within the first few months of life. There may be signs like nasal congestion, cough, rash, itching, diarrhea etc after certain foods are given. The child refusing to eat certain foods and vomiting it out can be signs of food allergy. Eczema, Urticaria and Andanaphylaxis are some of the uncommon side effects of food allergy.

The following are some of the common symptoms to watch out for:

  • Runny nose and cold
  • Severe chest congestion
  • Bouts of coughing
  • Heavy or difficult breathing or wheezing
  • Onset of bronchial asthma
  • Itchy skin, especially around the eyes and nose
  • Watery and red eyes
  • Skin rash, commonly in skin folds like under arms and behind the knees

There are several types of pollen and molds. While one person may show allergic reaction to grass pollens, another one may be allergic to tree pollen or maybe weed pollen. Therefore, the type of pollen a person is allergic to determines the time of the year when seasonal allergy will set in.

Tests for allergies:
Commonly pediatricians may perform a Skin prick test or a blood test called RAST to determine allergy and identify its causes.

Treatments for seasonal allergies:
Treatment in this case is given for symptoms and not for the cause of allergy. Medication for allergies may include –

  • orally administered anti-histamine medication
  • Anti-allergic eye drops
  • Nasal spray etc.

Please remember here, that over the counter nasal de-contestants and self medication is strictly discouraged as this can make matters worse. Also asthma specific medication should always be given to the child after discussion with the doctor.

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