Allergy Symptoms in Children

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Baby sneezingAllergy symptoms in children often resemble the signs that indicate they are tired or catching a cold. It is important then, that you know what the common allergies are for children, what may trigger these allergies, and what to do if your child has an allergic reaction to something.

What is an Allergy Exactly?

An allergy is the body’s overreaction to a substance that it views as dangerous. The human body has receptors on inflammatory cells that allow the allergen to attach. This sets into action a cascade of events so that these inflammatory cells release substances that cause any or all of the allergic reactions mentioned above.

Allergy or Sickness?

The most common and least dangerous allergy symptoms include red and itchy eyes, dark circles under the eyes, stuffy or runny nose, and general fatigue. Unfortunately, these are the same symptoms children display when they are starting to get sick. One way to tell if any of these symptoms is an indication of a virus or an allergy is to notice how quickly the symptoms appear. If a child is exposed to an allergy trigger, the reactive symptoms will become visible almost immediately or within a few hours. In addition, if the child does not have a fever, you should consider the possibility of an allergy.

Triggers of Allergy Symptoms in Children

Some obvious triggers are food, pet dander, indoor airborne inhalants such as dust or mold, and outdoor pollens. In these cases, you can often see, or at least identify, the cause and connect it to the subsequent symptoms. Sometimes, however, it is more difficult to identify the cause of the symptoms because you may not even be aware that your child has been in the vicinity of the trigger.

The Three Most Common Allergens Among Children

It is important to be aware of the most common allergens among children so you can quickly detect the cause of their symptoms. Because children can not articulate what they are feeling or when the sensation began, it is up to the parents and caretakers to notice the symptoms and know what to do about them. In some cases, the child may simply be uncomfortable; in other cases, however, the symptoms may actually be life threatening.

The three most common allergies among children are food, contact dermatitis, and airborne.

Food

Though a child may be allergic to any kind of food, the most common food products that children are allergic to are gluten products, peanuts, wheat, dairy products, soybeans and seafood.

Airborne Particles

These allergens include seasonal irritants such as pollen, mold and mildew as well as indoor irritants that exist year-round including pet dander and house dust.

Contact Dermatitis

There are so many substances that may cause contact dermatitis. Your child could be allergic to soaps and fragrances, fabrics, insecticides, cleaning products, detergents, and nearly any substance in his environment. If your child displays the symptoms of dry, itchy, red or swollen spots on the skin, you should consider all the things he comes into contact with on a regular basis.

If your child displays any of the symptoms described in this article, you should begin a strategy to help identify the problem and then take measures to either remove the source of the allergen or seek medical direction for managing the allergy. If your child has a life-threatening reaction to an allergen, you should seek immediate medical assistance. In particular, if there is swelling in or around the mouth, this is an indication that he is struggling to breathe. Even if you do not know the cause of this symptom, you should seek the help of a medical professional to stop the swelling as soon as possible.

Allergy Symptoms in Children

Below is a list of the most common allergy symptoms among children. If your child displays any of these symptoms, you should identify the culprit and take measures to clear his environment of the allergen.

Itchy Nose

When a child has a cold, the nose will be stuffy or runny, but usually not accompanied by an itch. If your child is rubbing his nose often, you can be fairly certain that the stuffiness is due to an allergy. Allergies that cause this particular symptom are usually a reaction to airborne allergens such as dust or pollen.

Skin irritations

A rash that appears in the areas where the skin folds such as knees or elbows is usually a sign of an allergic reaction to something the child has touched. Such rashes also often appear around the eyes. Take note as to the dryness of the affected skin – an allergic reaction causes the skin to become dry and flaky as well. Allergens that cause rashes are things that the child touches such as poison ivy.

Chronic cough

When a child first shows signs of a cough, you are safe to assume it is a virus. However, if the cough is persistent and continues to return, you are probably dealing with an allergy. Allergy-based coughs are also usually dry; any phlegm that comes into the mouth from coughing when it is an allergic reaction is usually due to increased fluids in the sinuses which is also the result of the allergic reaction.

Frequent sinus infections

If your child seems to be having a chronic cold, you should consider that the symptoms are most likely due to an allergy and not an actual cold. A typical allergic reaction induces extra fluids in the sinuses. These fluids block the passage way that would normally allow germs and bacteria to pass on through. Because the germs and bacteria are blocked in the sinus cavity, they cause infection. So while the child may indeed be suffering from a cold, it is most likely a cold that won’t go away because of an allergy.

Child Allergies can be Dangerous

Some allergies are dangerous and can even be life-threatening. Bee stings are the most common in this category. You will know immediately if your child is in danger if he has difficulty breathing. Though the child may not say this precisely, you can tell if he is wheezing or, if he reaches for his chest, indicating tightness in the chest, that he may be struggling to breathe. Also, if there is swelling anywhere around the mouth, such as lips or tongue, you can know that there is danger.

If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your doctor right away.

River is an independent writer and consultant. With a Master's degree in teaching English as a second language from Ball State University. She lived in Japan for 15 years teaching and editing. Now based in the U.S., she works for a variety of clients. Published work can be found in print, online at various websites, and at goarticles.com. River blogs about writing, design, cooking, pets and thoughts about life.

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1 Comment on "Allergy Symptoms in Children"

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Lillian Schaeffer
Lillian Schaeffer

I like how you mentioned that an itchy nose can be a sign of allergies instead of a cold. My son has been having problems with his nose, but he recently said that it’s itchy, not really runny. I thought he was just dealing with a cold, but maybe it would be a good idea to visit a professional and test to see if he has allergies.

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