Allergies in Children....Common Allergy Symptoms - Pollen From Trees, Grasses And Weeds - Bright Tots - Information on child development - Autism information.  www.brighttots.com
Allergies in Children
Allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to substances that are otherwise harmless. The most common allergies are
caused by everyday, airborne particles such as pollens or house dust mites.

Common Allergy Symptoms:

•        Runny nose
•        Watery eyes
•        Itchy nose, eyes and roof of mouth
•        Sneezing
•        Stuffy nose
•        Pressure in the nose and cheeks
•        Ear fullness and popping
•        Dark circles under the eyes
•        Hives

Things that can make your allergy symptoms worse:

•        Aerosol sprays
•        Air pollution
•        Cold temperatures
•        Humidity
•        Irritating fumes
•        Tobacco smoke
•        Wind
•        Wood smoke

Pollen From Trees, Grasses And Weeds

Hay fever, also called seasonal allergic rhinitis, is the allergic reaction set off during a particular season by pollens from trees,
grasses and weeds. It is different from year-round allergies that usually are triggered by molds, animal dander and dust mites.

Hay fever is one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States, causing more than 10,000 absences on a typical
school day. Children allergic to airborne allergens can have a congested or runny nose, postnasal drip, coughing and itchy eyes.
Children who suffer from chronic hay fever often can be recognized by their "allergic shiners" — dark rings under their eyes —
and by the fact that they often breathe through their mouths instead of their noses. In more severe cases, hay fever also can
interfere with a child's breathing, causing him or her to wheeze.

The best way to avoid or minimize hay-fever reactions is to limit exposure to allergens. Here are some tips:

•        Keep windows closed to prevent pollens from entering.
•        Keep your child indoors when the pollen count is high, especially on warm, sunny days and in the late morning and early
evening.
•        Minimize activities such as lawn mowing or leaf raking.
•        Use air conditioners in those rooms in which your child spends most time to reduce his or her exposure to pollen.
•        Wash curtains, rugs and sheets frequently, using detergents that have no dyes, perfumes and other potentially irritating
additives.

Molds

As much as 10% of the population in the United States is believed to be allergic to molds. As much as 80% of people with other
respiratory allergies are sensitive to molds.

Molds are microscopic organisms that thrive in damp areas, including plants; the bathroom, closets and basement; and air
conditioning and dehumidifier filters. Because molds prefer dampness, mold allergies are more prevalent in humid climates.

Here are some tips to help keep your house as clean and dry as possible:

•        Eliminate indoor plants to minimize mold growth in damp soil.
•        Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners in the house.
•        Maintain heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. Keep them clean and change the filters frequently.
•        Keep your yard raked, and do not leave piles of damp leaves or mulch.
•        Leave a low-wattage light bulb turned on in your child's closet to prevent mildew.
•        Because fish tanks and bowls can generate moisture, do not put them in your child's bedroom.

Dust Mites

House dust is a major cause of year-round allergy symptoms. It is not the dust itself that causes allergies, but dust mites,
microscopic spiderlike insects found in the dust. Just a trace of house dust can contain thousands of dust mites. They leave
behind excrement and body parts, which can trigger allergic reactions. Dust mites can be anywhere, but they thrive in carpets,
textured drapes, upholstered furniture, bookshelves, closets, toys and stuffed animals.

Each female dust mite can produce 20 to 30 offspring, and each mite produces 200 times its weight in fecal matter in its life
span. In general, dust mites thrive and reproduce faster in summer weather and humidity. But dust-mite allergies are more
common and cause more problems during the winter heating season because the body parts disintegrate into house dust. In
addition, children spend more time inside where the windows are closed and the air recirculated.

The most effective way to control dust-mite allergies is to control dust mites through careful attention to house cleaning. That
means washing sheets, curtains and other fabrics in your child's room often in hot water with detergents that do not contain
irritating ingredients. Consider encasing your child's mattress and pillow in a waterproof or allergy-proof covering.

If cleaning does not relieve your child's allergies, consider removing rugs, drapes and upholstered furniture from your child's
bedroom. Research has found that special chemicals for killing mites are no more effective than careful cleaning and are not
recommended.

The best way to minimize dust-mite allergy is to limit exposure to dust-mite allergens in the bedroom. Here are some tips:

•        Remove feather pillows, down comforters and wool blankets. Substitute bedding made of washable, hypoallergenic
synthetic materials.
•        Encase bedding in waterproof, or allergy-proof, zippered coverings to entomb the dust mites. This is one of the most
effective ways to reduce mite allergies. Remember, children spend about half their time in bed.
•        Wash bedding weekly in hot water.
•        Leave a spread on the bed during the day to accumulate dust. Before your child climbs into bed, remove the spread and
replace it in the morning. Shake out bedding daily when your child is not around.
•        Minimize dust. Use washable rugs and curtains and washable stuffed animals, and keep them clean. Washable blinds and
an uncluttered decor are more easily kept dust-free. Damp mop the floor and dust furniture frequently with a damp cloth. Damp
mopping controls dust on uncarpeted floors better than vacuuming.
•        Keep the closet door closed, and hang only those clothes that are in regular use.

Cockroaches

Allergies and asthma in inner-city children seem to be on the rise. Between 40% and 60% of children with asthma and 20
percent and 53% of children with allergies have reactions to cockroaches.

Cockroaches most commonly are found in kitchens, bathrooms and basements. The best way to control these allergens is to use
a professional exterminator to treat the house or apartment. If you live in an apartment, neighboring apartments must also be
treated at the same time. Keep your kitchen clean with no waste food accessible. Avoid leaving food out or bringing food into
other parts of the house. This will reduce the likelihood of infestation.

Here are some tips to limit exposure:

•        Store all food in sealed containers.
•        Wash dirty dishes and silverware immediately.
•        Do not leave crumbs on the counter or floors.
•        Do not leave out pet food.
•        Keep your garbage can well sealed.
•        Treat your kitchen with a pesticide or sprinkle boric acid powder in areas where you have seen the bugs. Keep these and
all poisons out of the reach of children and pets.
•        Do not stack empty grocery bags or newspapers for recycling. Cockroaches live and lay eggs in the piles of paper and
cardboard boxes.
•        Seal any holes around pipes, windows, doors and baseboards to prevent cockroaches from entering your house.

Pet Dander

In children who are allergic to animals, the allergy is actually to pet dander, tiny skin cells that the pet sheds, not to the fur itself.
You may be able to limit your child's allergic symptoms by limiting the area in which the pet lives to the kitchen or the yard.
However, for many families, having an allergic child means not having a furry pet. For some children the only safe pet is a fish
or snake. If you already have a pet and must find a new home for it, include your child in the decision. However, finding a new
home for your pet will not alleviate the allergy immediately. Cat dander in particular clings to all kinds of surfaces, which means
that it will take time to rid the house of the allergens.

Here are some tips for avoiding or minimizing pet-dander allergies:
•        Keep furry pets outside or find them a new home.
•        If you keep the pet, keep it out of your child's bedroom at all times.
•        Washing your pet can reduce dander for about a week, although this has not been proven to reduce allergic symptoms.
•        Wash clothes frequently. Pet dander can cling to clothes, especially to wool.

Insect Stings

Insect stings are expected misfortunes in childhood. Even when insect stings are quite painful, they are rarely serious. True
allergies to insect venom are rare, but they are potentially life threatening.

Insect stings usually cause swelling, pain and itching. Inflammation of the skin and underlying tissue can be extensive. A child's
entire arm, foot or hand, for example, can swell up. When a reaction involves only swelling of the surface tissues, even if a large
part of the arm or leg is involved, it is considered to be a "local" reaction. Local reactions are not usually dangerous, and they are
not a sign of allergy.

If several insects sting your child at the same time, or if one insect releases a large amount of venom, it is possible for your child
to have symptoms that are not part of the local reaction, but are still not allergic. This kind of reaction is called a "toxic"
reaction. The usual symptoms of a toxic reaction are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, headache and fever. In rare cases, a
toxic reaction can cause a seizure or a loss of consciousness. A toxic reaction is not caused by allergy, but the large venom
exposure that results in a toxic reaction very frequently creates a new allergy that can be problematic with future stings or bites.
A child who has a toxic reaction may benefit from an allergy evaluation after recovery.

In a child who is allergic to the venom of a stinging insect, a sting may cause a medical emergency. Most allergic reactions are
mild, but if a reaction is severe, there is a chance it could be fatal without immediate treatment.

Here are some guidelines for what to do if your child is bitten or stung:

•        Watch your child closely after an insect sting so you are aware if concerning symptoms develop.

•        Get immediate medical help (dial 911) if your child begins to have any of the following symptoms. These are symptoms
that can come from a "systemic" allergic reaction, not a local reaction. These symptoms can each be a part of the dangerous
allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening if it affects your child's breathing or blood pressure:

-        Trouble breathing or swallowing
-        Wheezing
-        A hoarse voice
-        Nausea or vomiting
-        Sudden diarrhea
-        Abdominal pain
-        New nose discharge or eye weeping immediately after the sting that can't be explained by crying
-        Inflammation around the eyes that can't be explained by crying
-        A swollen pink rash (hives or welts) on parts of the body that are far from the original sting
-        A feeling of faintness
-        Tongue or mouth swelling
-        A seizure or black-out (loss of consciousness)

If your child has any of above symptoms after a sting, your child needs medical attention. After recovery, you will need to talk
to your doctor about carrying epinephrine (a medication to treat anaphylaxis) in case of another sting, and about an evaluation by
an allergy specialist.

Latex Allergy

Some children exhibit a hypersensitivity to latex, the natural rubber found in rubber gloves, balloons, baby-bottle nipples, toys or
pacifiers. A latex allergy occurs when the immune system reacts to proteins found in latex, triggering a defensive reaction that
can cause unpleasant and, in some cases, life-threatening symptoms. The most common symptom of latex allergy is a rash
where the skin comes in contact with the latex. Balloons can cause lip and facial swelling.

In rare cases, latex can cause a severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis. This can be fatal if not treated immediately.
Symptoms of anaphylaxis include facial swelling, spreading rash, trouble breathing, dizziness or fainting, a rapid heartbeat,
stomachache or diarrhea. If any of these occur, call 911 right away.

Children who have undergone many surgeries, such as children with spina bifida or other birth defects that require surgery are
most vulnerable to latex hypersensitivity, most likely because of repeated exposure. Also, children who are allergic to kiwi,
banana, chestnut, papaya, peach, nectarine, and avocado may be more prone to latex allergy because of proteins in them that are
similar to latex proteins. If your child has to undergo a surgical procedure and already exhibits such food sensitivities, ask your
doctor to test your child for latex allergy so that latex-free medical care can be provided.

If your child has been diagnosed with a latex allergy, talk to your doctor about carrying epinephrine (the medication used to treat
anaphylaxis) in case of an accidental exposure. It is important that all people caring for your child be aware of the allergy; if this
isn't possible, a medical alert bracelet may be a good idea.

Allergic Reactions

An allergic reaction may occur anywhere in the body, in the skin, eyes, lining of the stomach, nose, sinuses, throat, and lungs
places where immune system cells are located to fight off invaders that are inhaled, swallowed, or come in contact with the skin.

Reactions may result in:

•        
rhinitis - nasal stuffiness, sneezing, nasal itching, nasal discharge, itching in ears or roof of mouth
•        
allergic conjunctivitis - red, itchy, watery eyes
•        
atopic dermatitis - red, itchy, dry skin
•        
urticaria - hives or itchy welts
•        
contact dermatitis - itchy rash
•        
asthma - airway problems such as shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing

Food Allergies

Food allergies are most common in the first 3 years of life; approximately 6% of U.S. children have them. The latest studies
estimate that 4% of the U.S. population in all age groups has food allergies. The immune system helps to protest us from
infection by identifying and attacking bacteria or viruses that can cause illness.  When the immune system mistakenly responds
to a food protein, inflammation and damage to the intestinal tract may result.  However, having a food allergy does not mean that
your child is at increased risk of infections.  

Symptoms of a food allergy can include:

•        Poor feeding
•        Irritability
•        Vomiting
•        Diarrhea
•        Bloody stools

Food allergy can present with an immediate or a delayed reaction.  In immediate reactions which occur within minutes to hours,
the child may develop hives, wheezing, or swelling of the face as well as tightness of the chest. The reaction can be so severe
that the child cannot breathe (anaphylaxis). Emergency treatment is needed. Luckily, these dangerous reactions are relatively
uncommon.  

Delayed reactions occur from hours to days after eating the offending food.  Symptoms may include vomiting, pain, diarrhea,
blood stools, or poor growth. Some children may have hives or eczema.  Delayed reactions are the most common form of food
allergy.

Foods Which May Cause Allergies

Approximately 90 percent of all food allergies are caused by eight foods:

•        milk
•        eggs
•        wheat
•        peanuts
•        soy
•        tree nuts
•        fish
•        shellfish

Eggs, milk, and peanuts are the most common causes of food allergies in children, with wheat, soy, and tree nuts also included.
Peanuts, nuts, fish, and shellfish commonly cause the most severe reactions. Nearly 5 percent of children have food allergies.
Although most children "outgrow" their allergies, allergy to peanuts and tree nuts may be life-long.

Food Allergy Symptoms

Allergic symptoms may begin within minutes to an hour after ingesting the food. Symptoms can include:

•        vomiting
•        diarrhea
•        cramps
•        hives
•        swelling
•        eczema
•        itching or swelling of the lips, tongue, or mouth
•        itching or tightness in the throat
•        difficulty breathing
•        wheezing
•        lowered blood pressure
•        hives
•        eczema
•        asthma

Diagnosing and Testing

In addition to the more visible reactions described above, there are other signs that might indicate that your child has an allergy,
most likely an environmental one. These include ongoing nasal congestion, frequent ear infections, or frequent colds that seem
to last a long time. You should bring these to the pediatrician’s attention, because if your child continuously breathes through
his/her mouth in the first few years, this can change the way the soft bones of their face grows and the way his/her teeth come
in, causing dental and other problems in the future. Doctors can test children for allergies. Although they can be done in infants,
these tests are most reliable in children over two years old. The test for environmental and food allergies is a skin test that is not
too painful and will not harm your child.

Preventing an Allergic Reaction

The best way to manage your child’s allergies is to do your best to make sure he/she does not come into contact with the things
the child is allergic to. If your child has food allergies, make sure you read the ingredients of the foods your child eats because
there may be traces of the things their allergic to. Teach your child to remember to tell others at school, at childcare, or at a
friend or family member’s house that he/she is allergic to a certain food. Also communicate this information yourself to your
child’s school because many schools will make accommodations if your child has a severe allergic reaction to something like
nuts by making the classroom ‘nut-free’ and asking that no one bring anything containing nuts. If your child has airborne
allergies that are triggered by things in the air, the most important thing you can do is to keep your house clean and dry. Keep
pets out of your child’s room, and keep windows closed as much as possible and use air conditioning. If you do have air
conditioners, you should change their filters at least once a year. You can also get an air purifier for your home. Avoid having
real plants in your home, including Christmas trees. You can also get special pillow and mattress covers if your child is allergic
to dust. Avoid bedding made with down. Change your child’s clothes after he/she has been outside. If your child has an
environmental allergy, sometimes allergy shots can be given to minimize the symptoms and keep the allergy under control.

Treating Allergies

While there is no cure for allergies, they are treatable when a flare-up occurs. For food and insect allergies, reactions might be
treatable with an injectable dose of epinephrine (also known as an epi-pen because it looks like a pen), a drug that makes an
allergic reaction go away. You can carry this around with you, and if your child is old enough, he/she can even give it to
themselves. Make sure your child’s teacher and/or school nurse know about this and are able to access it if necessary. If your
child has environmental allergies, the most common reaction is difficulty breathing. His/her doctor might prescribe an inhaler
that they can use if he/she feels this or if you or others sense that the child is having trouble. With any kind of allergic reaction,
even if you can treat it with an epi-pen or inhaler, you should still take your child to the doctor as soon as possible to make sure
he/she is ok. You, your child, your child’s school, childcare, and any other activity or place the child visits should know what
he/she is allergic to, what signs indicate their having an allergic reaction, and how to respond.
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