One of the most widespread health issues of the 21st century, allergy affects people of all ages and you can hardly find a kid who does not develop allergic reactions at all. What is it? Genetically inherited condition? Our bodies’ reaction to poor ecology and low-quality food? A disease that develops throughout our life? This guide is here to explain you what is allergy in children, what causes it, and how to deal with allergic reactions.
A Few Words On The Nature Of Allergy
Our immune system is always protecting us against viruses, bacteria and other foreign bodies at a macromolecular level. It resists any irritant that gets inside us, and any new product, smell, or any other object we contact with. Once an irritant gets into our body, the immune system starts attacking it full-force to block it.
Once a harmful substance (antigen) gets into our body, the immune system researches them and produces anti-bodies to block them (immunoglobulin). In people who are prone to allergy, the level of immunoglobulin in the blood is higher.
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So, How Does Allergy Happen?
The agent provoking allergy gets into the body. It might be anything starting from flower pollen and finishing by exotic fruit and chemicals emitted by surrounding objects.
- Immunoglobulin IgE is produced by the immune system to block the allergen.
- The IgE antibodies fix on the mast cells and basophilic cell.
- Once the allergen gets into our body again, it starts producing histamine. It’s aimed at protecting us but might cause muscle spasms, swelling, arterial pressure reduction and so on. Symptoms can vary from mild (reddening, swelling, itching) to life-threatening ones (shortage of breathing, coma).
- Thus, the molecules get collected around the place of contact with the allergic agent causing damage of tissues. Depending on the type of molecules prevailing, allergic reactions can vary from slight reddening to anaphylaxis reaction and Quincke’s disease.
What Causes Allergy In Children?
As I’ve mentioned, allergy in kids can be caused by anything. We might never know what makes our body react this way. Most often, allergy is evoked by:
- Per fur
- Insect bites
- Household chemicals
- Synthetic substances
- Exotic fruit and products
Interesting to note, in some people, pollen in the air increases the risk of developing food allergy. Washington Post published a great detailed article on the connection between different types of pollen and products the allergy develops to.
Allergy to certain things is often genetically predisposed. If you have one parent with an allergy to honey, there’s a 30% chance you will have it, too. If both of your parents are allergic to honey, it’s 70% likely you’ll develop allergic reactions to honey, too.
Such thing as ‘acquired allergy’ develops as the result of intense contact with the allergen. For example, eating too much chocolate can cause allergic reactions to it.
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Types Of Allergy In Children
Types of allergy can be classified according to different criteria. According to body reaction and effect on organs, allergy can be:
- Skin allergy. Typically triggered by the contact with chemical substances, pollen, medications.
- Respiratory allergy. Caused by anything we inhale: pollen, dust, pet fur, sprays, and aerosols.
- Food allergy. Connected with edible products. As a rule, allergic reactions are evoked by sweets, berries, fruit, protein-rich foods.
- Infection allergy. It happens because of intestinal parasites and microorganisms.
- Ultraviolet allergy. Some kids develop it under direct sun rays (it manifests into swelling, reddening, skin dryness).
Types Of Allergic Reactions
Allergy can manifest into the following reactions:
- Food allergy. The reaction of the body to products: eggs, milk, chicken, fish, rye. Symptoms: itching, eczema, redness of the skin, abdominal pain, vomiting, and other signs;
- Urticaria – allergic dermatitis, manifested by the appearance of pale pink blisters, as after a nettle burn;
- Fever – a response of the immune system to pollen from plants. Symptoms: violation of smell, suffocation, bronchitis and other signs;
- Allergic conjunctivitis is a type of hay fever that affects the eyes: inflammation occurs in the conjunctiva – the upper part covering the white layer of the eye. Symptoms: tearing, itching, swelling of the eyes;
- Allergic rhinitis – a reaction of the nasal mucosa to allergens. Manifestations: itching, repeated sneezing, swelling of the mucous membrane;
- Atopic dermatitis – chronic allergic dermatitis. It is characteristic of individuals with a genetic predisposition to atopy.
Allergies happen in people of different ages. In childhood, the occurrence of allergic reactions is more likely and they usually proceed more severely than in adults. This is largely due to the immaturity of the child’s body and especially the child’s immune system.
If allergy is not treated and its causes are not specified, a child may experience various complications during the course of the illness. Suffering from chronic rhinitis, the child may complain of persistent headaches, which affects concentration, memory, and mental activity. Urticaria and dermatitis can lead to severe scratching and, as a result, scars or even infection.
With conjunctivitis and rhinitis, Quincke’s edema may occur. The most serious consequences can be anaphylactic shock or asphyxia in bronchial asthma. Do not wait until it passes by itself! Make sure to contact the experts! They will help to find out what the allergy developed from, and how to prevent the child from repeated contact with the allergen.
How To Prevent Allergy In Children?
The list of prevention measures might be a mile long – everything depends on the type of allergy experienced. Let’s highlight the most common ways:
- To prevent allergy to dust, remove carpets from the bedroom, because they collect the most dust; wash sheets and blankets with hot water at least once a week; use a wet towel instead of dusty rags; regularly ventilate the bedroom.
- To eliminate allergy to pet fur, do not allow pets to sleep in the bedroom of the child; bathe the pet with shampoo or soap once a week and do not comb the animal directly in the house so that the fur wouldn’t stay and collect at home.
- To avoid food allergy you can replace fish with foods rich in omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids; get vitamins from grains and vegetables instead of fruit; Vitamin A from eggs can be replaced with green vegetables, peas, and melon. And vitamin D is also found in cod liver and oily fish (but remember that fish can be an allergen). Vitamin E is found in broccoli, spinach, and beans. Vitamin K can be consumed with kiwi, olive oil, meat and milk, salad and avocado. Cook yourself! Make sure your family eats home-made food instead of ready-cooked foods – imagine how much preservatives and chemicals such dishes have.
- To prevent allergy to chemicals, use organic shampoos and soap, make sure that every product starting from laundry detergent and finishing by toys has safe contents without synthetic components.
- To reduce the risk of allergy during the introduction of supplementary food, parents give babies prebiotics – they stimulate the immune system and help digest new products better.
How To Treat Allergy In Kids?
It also depends on the symptoms experienced, but you should never self-medicate! Consult the doctor to find out what has caused allergy in your kids and define the treatment program.
In case of tolerable symptoms
In case of skin reddening, itching, and other mild symptoms, the onset of allergic reaction usually ceases with the help of antihistamine medications (Zyrtec, Claritin, Allegra, etc) and creams with anti-allergic and soothing properties. Use drugs prescribed by your doctor!
In case of life-threatening symptoms
Call emergency, if you see:
- shortage of breathing;
- loss of consciousness;
- severe rash;
- change of body temperature.
Don’t forget that allergy can manifest into Quincke’s disease and coma! It’s important to get timely medical help.
In asthmatic people, allergy can also cause suffocation and shortage of breathing. As a rule, they use special inhalers. If your kid has asthma, make sure the inhaler is always at the ready.
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Can allergy be treated once and forever?
It’s not always possible to get rid of allergy – all in all, it’s genetically programmed. However, homeopathic treatment helps to overcome come kinds of allergy in children and adults. How does it work? In this case, a specialist prescribes special homeopathic medications according to the type of allergy and symptoms experiences. These meds eliminate the allergy itself, not only symptoms. Such treatment is long-lasting and orthodox doctors do not practice it. However, research proves that homeopathy provides results different from placebo.
Allergy in children is nothing to sneeze at! Even if you saw allergic reactions manifesting in mild reddening and slight itching, you should find out what causes the problem and eliminate the allergen from your kid’s life. This health condition may have a lot of complications and side effects. If left untreated, so make sure it doesn’t bother your children.
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