An allergy is the body’s reaction to a specific substance, or allergen. Our immune system responds to the invading allergen by releasing histamine and other chemicals that typically trigger symptoms in the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, eyes, skin, or stomach lining.
Allergies may be seasonal or can strike year-round (perennial). In most cases, plant pollens are often the cause of seasonal allergic rhinitis—more commonly called hay fever. Indoor substances, such as mould, dust mites, and pet dander, may cause the perennial kind. Food allergies are also common in children.
In some children, allergies can also trigger symptoms of asthma—a disease that causes wheezing or difficulty breathing. If a child has allergies and asthma, not controlling the allergies can make asthma worse.
What can I do?
• If your child has seasonal allergies, pay attention to pollen counts and try to keep your child inside when the levels are high.
• Avoid pollen, mould and other allergy triggers such as known food allergens.
• Some moulds, another allergy trigger, may also be seasonal. For example, leaf mould is more common in Autumn.
• It may also help to keep windows closed in your house and car and run the air conditioner.
• For most children, symptoms may be controlled by avoiding the allergen, if known. However, if this is not suffice, an antihistamine medication may be required.
• If a child’s symptoms are persistent and not relieved by antihistamines, then it is recommended to visit your doctor. In severe cases prescription medication or allergen immunotherapy may be required. Allergen immunotherapy is especially useful to test food allergens.
U.S. Food & Drug Administration. 2017. Allergy Relief for Your Child. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/allergy-relief-your-child