Health Encyclopedia

 

Document Search by P01663



All About Allergies in ChildrenTodo Sobre las Alergias

All About Allergies in Children

What are allergies?

Allergies are physiological reactions caused when the immune system reacts to a specific foreign substance (allergen) that has been inhaled, touched, or eaten by a person.

Normally, the human body defends itself against harmful substances, such as viruses or bacteria, but, sometimes, the defenses aggressively attack usually innocuous substances such as dust, mold, or pollen.

The immune system generates large amounts of the antibodies called immunoglobin E (IgE), to attack and destroy the supposed enemy. Each IgE antibody specifically targets a particular allergen—the substance that triggers the allergic reaction. In this disease-fighting process, inflammatory chemicals, such as histamines, cytokines, and leukotrienes are released or produced, and some unpleasant, and, in extreme cases, life-threatening, symptoms may be experienced by an allergy-prone person.

What are allergic reactions?

An allergic reaction may occur 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 the following:

  • Seasonal or allergic rhinitis (nasal stuffiness, sneezing, nasal itching, nasal discharge, itching in ears or roof of mouth)

  • Allergic conjunctivitis (red, itchy, watery eyes)

  • Atopic dermatitis or eczema (red, itchy, dry skin)

  • Urticaria (hives or itchy welts)

  • Contact dermatitis (itchy rash)

  • Asthma (airway problems, such as shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing)

What causes allergic reactions?

Although hundreds of ordinary substances could trigger allergic reactions, the most common triggers, called allergens, include the following:

  • Tree, grass, and weed pollens

  • Natural rubber latex (protein)

  • Molds

  • Dust mites

  • Animal protein (dander, urine, oil from skin)

  • Foods

  • Medicines

  • Feathers

  • Insect stings

  • Cockroach droppings and body parts

Who is affected by allergy?

Allergies can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. Generally, allergies are more common in children. However, a first-time occurrence can happen at any age, or recur after many years of remission.

There's a tendency for allergies to occur in families, although the exact genetic factors that cause it aren't yet understood. Often, the symptoms of allergies develop gradually over a period of time.

Allergy sufferers may become so accustomed to chronic symptoms, such as sneezing, nasal congestion, or wheezing, that they do not consider their symptoms to be unusual. Yet, with the help of an allergist, these symptoms can usually be prevented or controlled and quality of life greatly improved.

How is allergy diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, your child's doctor may use the following:

  • Skin test. The skin test is a method of measuring the child's level of IgE antibodies to specific allergens. Using diluted solutions of specific allergens, an allergist pricks the surface of the skin with these solutions on plastic prongs. A reaction to the skin test doesn't always mean that your child is allergic to the allergen that caused the reaction. Skin tests provide faster results, typically taking 15 minutes, and are more specific than blood tests.

  • Blood test. The blood test is used to measure the child's level of IgE antibodies to specific allergens. One common blood test is called RAST (radioallergosorbent test).

  • Challenge test. This is a test supervised by an allergist because a very small amount of allergen is taken by mouth or inhaled.

What is the treatment for allergy?

Specific treatment for allergy will be determined by your child's doctor based on the following:

  • Your child's age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the disease

  • Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the disease

  • Your opinion or preference

 
Related Items
Wellness Library
  Is It an Allergy or a Cold?
  Using Allergy Medications
  Allergies and Asthma When Traveling
Nutritional Supplement Advisor
  Alfalfa
  Bee Pollen
  Histidine
  Spirulina
HealthInk Healthy Tips
  Easing Allergies
Drug Reference
  Brompheniramine
  Dexchlorpheniramine
  Dextromethorphan; Phenylephrine; Pyrilamine
  Chlorpheniramine; Dextromethorphan; Pseudoephedrine
  Levocetirizine
  Ciclesonide
  Chlorpheniramine; Dextromethorphan; Phenylephrine
  Desloratadine; Pseudoephedrine
  Carbinoxamine; Phenylephrine
  Diphenhydramine; Phenylephrine
  Brompheniramine; Carbetapentane; Phenylephrine
  Dexchlorpheniramine; Dextromethorphan; Pseudoephedrine
  Carbetapentane; Diphenhydramine; Phenylephrine
  Acetaminophen; Chlorpheniramine; Phenylephrine; Phenyltoloxamine
  Carbetapentane; Pseudoephedrine
  Acetaminophen; Guaifenesin; Phenylephrine
  Dextromethorphan; Diphenhydramine; Phenylephrine
  Carbetapentane; Phenylephrine
  Loratadine; Montelukast
  Bepotastine
  Methylprednisolone
  Prednisone
  Promethazine
  Triamcinolone
  Chlorpheniramine; Phenylephrine
  Chlorpheniramine; Pseudoephedrine
Quizzes
  Allergies Quiz
Disease Management
  Asthma: When to Get an Allergy Test
Daily News Feed
  Is a Gluten-Free Diet Right for You?
  Milk Allergy Therapy Needs More Research
  Watch Out for Backyard Allergy Triggers
  Study of Genetic Condition May Yield Clues to Cause of Allergies
  One in Five Kids May 'Outgrow' Asthma
  Taking the Sting Out of Insect-Bite Allergies
  FDA Warns of Rare Skin Reactions to Acetaminophen
  Skin Allergies Can Flare Up in Summer Heat
  Allergies, Asthma Show Links to ADHD: Study
  Health Tip: Allergic to Latex?
  Health Tip: Dealing With a Child's Cough
  Health Tip: Exercising Despite Allergies and Asthma
  Cat Allergies Double Among Asthma Sufferers, Study Reveals
  Study: Women at Higher Risk for Allergies, Asthma
  Kids in Southern U.S. More Likely to Have Hay Fever: Study
  Did Bone Marrow Transplant Cure Peanut Allergy?
  Tips for Tackling Winter Allergy Triggers
  Could Mothers' Allergy Shots in Pregnancy Lower Kids' Risk?
  Certain Allergies Plus Blood Pressure Meds Could Be Bad Mix
  Nasal Allergies, Hay Fever Tied to More Migraines in Study
  Study: Pollen Allergies May Raise Risk for Blood Cancers in Women
  Dogs May Guard Babies Against Asthma, Allergies
  Eating More Nuts During Pregnancy Might Help Prevent Allergies in Kids: Study
  Ultramarathoners: How's Their Health?
  Preservative in Baby Wipes Linked to Rashes in Some Children
  Stocking Epinephrine in Schools Might Save Lives
  Health Tip: Inform Your Allergic Child
  Health Tip: Prevent Dust Allergy Symptoms
  FDA Advisers: Pill for Ragweed Allergy Safe and Effective
  Blood Test Might Help Tell When Peanut Allergy Is Gone: Study
  Expectant Mothers' Colds May Affect Baby
  Health Tip: Using a Humidifier
  Food Allergies Have Nearly Doubled Among Black Children
  Allergy Rates Surprisingly Similar Across the U.S., Study Finds
  September Peak Month for Kids' Asthma Flares: Study
  So Long Snow, Hello Pollen
  Health Tip: Understanding Eye Allergies
  Could 'Nasal Filter' Device Help Ease Allergies?
  Allergy Season Springs Into Bloom
  Health Tip: Antihistamines Have Side Effects
  Stress Tied to Worse Allergy Symptoms
  FDA Approves Under-the-Tongue Hay Fever Pill
  Under-the-Tongue Tablet Approved for Grass Allergies
  Health Tip: Minimizing Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
  Spring Cleaning Helps Stave Off Allergy Symptoms: Experts
  Health Tip: Getting Rid of Dust Mites
  FDA Approves Under-the-Tongue Hay Fever Pill
  Ragwitek Approved for Adult Ragweed Allergy
  Health Tip: Controlling Dust and Dust Mites
  Winter's Polar Vortex Ushers in Spring's 'Pollen Vortex'
  FDA Panel Says No to Over-the-Counter Allergy Drug Singulair
  Sizing Up Your Options for Hay Fever Relief
  Too-Clean Homes May Encourage Child Allergies, Asthma: Study
  Milk, Egg Allergies Seem to Make Parents Most Anxious
  Some Acne Products Can Trigger Severe Allergic Reactions: FDA
  iPads Can Trigger Nickel Allergies in Kids
Adult Diseases and Conditions
  All About Allergy
  Treatment for Allergy
  Allergens: Animals
  Allergens: Chemical Sensitivity
  Allergens: Triggers of Allergy Attacks
  Diagnostic Procedures for Allergy
  Egg Allergy Diet
  Allergens: Food
  Home Page - Allergy and Asthma
  Allergen: Insect Stings
  Diet for Lactose Intolerance
  Milk Allergy Diet
  Online Resources - Allergy and Asthma
  Peanut Allergy Diet
  Allergens: Pollen
  Shellfish Allergy Diet
  Topic Index - Allergy and Asthma
  Soy Allergy Diet
  Allergy and Asthma Statistics
  Symptomatic Conditions of Allergy
  Allergies and the Immune System
  Tree Nut Allergy Diet
  Wheat Allergy Diet
  Allergies
  Allergy Overview
Pediatric Diseases and Conditions
  Allergy
  Treatment for a Child's Allergy
  Animals
  Cold vs. Allergy: How Do I Know the Difference?
  Dust Mites
  Diagnostic Procedures for Allergy in Children
  Immune Disorders
  Mold
  Pollen and Children
  Symptomatic Conditions of Allergy in Children
  Types of Allergens
  Insect Stings