WHEN TO SUSPECT AN ALLERGY
Some allergies are easy to identify by the pattern of symptoms that invariably follows exposure to a particular
substance. But others are more subtle, and may masquerade as other conditions. Here are some common
clues that could lead you to suspect your child may have an allergy.
Patches of bumps or itchy, red skin that "weeps" or oozes clear fluid, and forms a crust.
Development of hives, intensely itchy skin eruptions that usually last for a few hours and move from one
part of the body to another.
Repeated or chronic coldlike symptoms - that last more than a week or two, or develop at about the
same time every year. These could include a runny nose, nasal stuffiness, sneezing and throat
Nose rubbing, sniffling, snorting, sneezing and itchy, runny eyes.
Itching or tingling sensations in the mouth and throat. Itchiness is not usually a complaint with a cold,
but it is the hallmark of an allergy problem.
Coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and other respiratory symptoms.
Unexplained bouts of diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and other intestinal symptoms.
HOW TO MANAGE HAY FEVER
Many children are allergic to pollens and molds, both of which are found everywhere outdoors and
cannot be completely avoided.
Exposure to plant allergens can be minimized by keeping your child indoors on days with high pollen
and/or mold counts. It's helpful to use air conditioners, where possible, to reduce exposure to pollen in
both your home and your car.
Dust mites congregate where food is plentiful. They are especially numerous in upholstered furniture,
bedding and rugs. Choose blankets and pillows made of synthetic materials. Padded furnishings such
as mattresses, box springs, pillows and cushions should be encased in allergen-proof, zip-up covers
which are available through catalogs and specialized retailers. Wash linens weekly, and other bedding
such as blankets, every 2 to 3 weeks in hot water, then put them through the hottest cycle of a clothes
dryer. Pillows should be replaced every 2 to 3 years.
COMMON ALLERGENS ON THE HOME FRONT
Dust (contains dust mites and finely ground particles from other allergens such as pollen, mold and
animal dander) v Pollen (trees, grasses, weeds)
Fungi (including molds too small to be seen with the naked eye)
Furry animals (cats, dogs, guinea pigs, gerbils, rabbits, and other pets)
Clothing and toys made, trimmed, or stuffed with animal hair v Latex (household articles such as rubber
gloves, toys, balloons, elastic in socks, underwear, and other clothing, airborne particles)
Seed dusts (beanbag toys and cushions) v Bacterial enzymes (used to manufacture enzyme bleaches
and cleaning products)
Foods such as cow's milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat and gluten, and corn
Airborne dust from grain elevators, barns and haylofts (in rural areas)
MEDICATIONS TO SUPPRESS SYMPTOMS
Your child's allergy treatment should start with your pediatrician, who may refer you to a pediatric allergy
specialist for additional evaluations and treatments.
Antihistamines - Dampen the allergic reaction.
Decongestants - Cover the range of symptoms.
Corticosteroids - Highly effective for allergy treatment and are widely used to stop symptoms.
Allergy Immunotherapy - Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, may be recommended to reduce your
child's sensitivity to airborne allergens. Not every allergy problem can or needs to be treated with
allergy shots, but treatment of respiratory allergies to pollen, dust mites, and outdoor molds is often
© 2000 - American Academy of Pediatrics