Pediatric Allergy

Every parent wants to see their child in good health and growing normally. However, all children are susceptible to developing allergies, particularly those with a family history of such health conditions. It’s usually difficult to see and control all things that the child consumes or gets exposed to. However, parents can focus on overseeing the symptoms instead. 

Early detection and diagnosis of pediatric allergy help enhance the quality of life among children. It also prevents the child from developing associated complications but instead controls the condition and ensures that it doesn’t advance. Furthermore, it helps avoid missing school for an extended period because of getting sick from time to time. 

 

What is an Allergy? 

Allergy can either be a minor or a chronic health condition. It occurs when the body's immune system reacts abnormally to the usually harmless substance referred to as the allergen. The common allergens include pollen, dust, insect stings, animal dander, certain foods, and some medications. 

Whenever the child breathes in, eats, or comes into contact with an allergen, the immune system produces histamines. This triggers various allergic reactions-related symptoms, which symptoms vary from one child to another. On the other hand, the allergens can impact the child’s respiratory tract, skin, and body organs. 

 

Signs and Symptoms of Pediatric Allergy 

All children can suffer from allergic reactions at any age. The early the detections of these allergies, the sooner they can be managed and treated. This eventually helps reduce the associated symptoms and enhance the quality of life. 

When a child comes into contact or touches an allergen, they can develop contact dermatitis. This causes the skin to itch, appear red, bumpy, scaly, or swollen. Also, in case they consume, inhale, or touch an allergen, they might suffer from hives. Hives are the raised bumpy welts that can occur on the skin and are characterized by constant itchiness. 

At times, a child with an allergy can develop eczema. Eczema is a health disorder that makes the skin itch, irritate, and get inflamed. This occurs even without coming to contact with the allergen. 

Allergy can also impact the respiratory system and sinus of the child. If the child comes to contact with the allergen, they can experience various pediatric allergy symptoms, including; 

  • Running and stuffy nose 
  • Sneezing 
  • Itchy, watery, and red eyes 
  • A sensation of pressure on the face 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Wheezing and coughing 

Children with severe allergic reactions can sometimes develop anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a possible chronic and fatal allergy that can trigger the closure of the airways, making it hard to breathe. 

Other potential symptoms of childhood allergies include; 

  • Diarrhea 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Dizziness 
  • Cramps 
  • Swelling of the face or tongue 
  • Tingling feeling in the mouth 
  • Loss of consciousness in severe conditions 

 

Pediatric Allergy Testing 

Allergies can affect infants, young children, and adolescents. Besides, it may interfere with sleep, diet, and overall wellbeing. Pediatric allergy testing can thus help identify if the symptom is a result of an allergy. Allergy testing also helps determine the possible allergen and develop a suitable treatment plan. 

The common allergy testing procedures for children include; 

  • Skin pricking test 

During skin pricking examination, the doctor will apply a small allergen drop on the skin. They will then prick the skin using a needle to make some of the allergen substance enter the skin. 

In case the child is allergic to the allergen, reddish, swollen bumps and an associated ring develop. Usually, this allergy test technique is considered a golden standard of all the other test procedures. Besides, this examination can be conducted at any age after six months. 

  • Blood tests 

Numerous blood tests are available for different allergic conditions. These tests aim at measuring the antibodies in the child's blood that are unique to various allergens, like food. There are higher chances of the allergy if the results show an increased level. 

This type of blood test is the same as other blood tests. Doctors or pediatricians conduct the procedure by drawing a blood sample and taking it to the laboratory for examination. They usually test several allergies using a single blood sample, and the results might take a few days. 

  • Foot challenge test 

Doctors can sometimes use blood tests and skin tests to determine food allergies. If the results of the two procedures are positive, then they will suspect or presume food allergy. However, if the results are not conclusive, they can recommend a food challenge test. 

Food challenge tests enable the doctors to identify whether they have a food allergy and check if they have outgrown the condition. These tests are normally performed in the hospital or office of the allergist due to the possibility of a severe reaction. 

  • Intradermal test 

An intradermal test is normally performed at the allergist's office. It involves the use of a needle to inject small allergen content underneath the skin of the arm. Medical providers often perform this test to assess allergic reactions to insect venom or penicillin. The intradermal test procedure takes about 1o to 15 minutes, after which the injection area is analyzed for allergic reaction. 

  • Patch test 

Doctors often recommend a patch test if the child has symptoms such as hives or skin rashes. It helps identify if an allergen is the actual cause of skin irritation. Unlike the skin prick test, the patch test doesn’t involve the use of a needle. Instead, the doctor puts the allergens on patches and applies them to the skin. 

A patch test can be performed with a range of allergens, about 20 to 30. These patches will be worn around the arm for up to 48 hours, after which the doctor removes them. They will then be analyzed for any allergic reaction. 

  • Elimination diet 

Elimination diet test involves eliminating foods suspected to be allergens and triggers of intolerance or allergic reactions. Examples of common foods include eggs, dairy, and peanuts. During the procedure, the doctor will suggest removing the food from the diet for at least two or three weeks while continually monitoring the condition. Slowly, you can start reintroducing each food and carefully watch for the common allergic reaction symptoms. They can include the development of rashes, changes in breathing, sleeping problem, or changes in bowel habits. 

 

Pediatric Allergy Treatment 

Pediatric allergy treatment usually depends on factors such as the age of the child, the overall health, and the severity of the allergic reaction. The most effective forms of treatment can thus include the following; 

  • Medication 

There are several effective drugs to treat and manage allergies among children. In most cases, doctors often administer medications according to the child’s age and the type of allergic reaction. However, medical experts advise against certain over-the-counter drugs for infants and young children. As such, it’s essential to consult with the doctor or allergist before administering such medications to the child. 

  • Using antihistamines 

Antihistamines help relieve and prevent symptoms associated with allergic rhinitis or hay fever, and other allergies. They also prevent the impacts of histamine, a substance the body creates during an allergic reaction. Unlike the old antihistamines, the current type induces less sleepiness or drowsiness. It’s always essential to consult the doctor regarding the best antihistamine to give the child. They are usually available on prescription and over the counter and come in the form of table, liquid, injection, or capsule. 

  • Decongestants 

Doctors can administer decongestants to treat nasal congestion and various symptoms of allergies and colds. Decongestants narrow down the blood vessel hence clearing the congestion. They are available by prescription and over the counter and are usually in a nasal spray, nasal drops, liquid, or tablet form. 

  • Avoidance (staying away from the allergen)

Avoidance involves keeping off from the substance that triggers allergic reactions. Some of the essential measures to ensure that children stay away from the potential allergens include; 

  • Staying indoors and ensuring that all the windows remain closed during the windy days and when the pollens are high 
  • Controlling dust in the house, especially in the child’s room. You can consider washing the bedding, clothes, and curtain often, removing window blinds and carpets, and putting dust mite covers on mattresses and pillows. 
  • Putting a dehumidifier in the damp sites at home and cleaning it regularly 
  • Using air conditioning rather than opening the windows 

 

  • Allergy shots (immunotherapy)

This is a treatment alternative if other treatment forms fail to work as expected. It involves the formulation of a mixture of several pollens, animal dander, dust mites, and mold pores. This mixture is known as allergy extract and is injected on the skin in the arm. 

 

Conclusion 

Just like adults, children are also prone to a range of allergies that affect them from time to time. An allergy occurs when the child negatively reacts to an ordinary, harmless substance. This includes certain food and medication, mold, pollen, dust mite, or insect bite. Therefore, if you notice any related symptoms in your child, it essential to seek medical care. This helps determine the underlying cause and prevent the condition from worsening.

CloudHospital offers state-of-the-art care to infants, young children, and adolescents with allergic conditions and related disorders. It works with a team of professional allergists, pediatricians, and other medical experts to help diagnose and treat allergies. They also help manage symptoms and create a suitable treatment plan.