Everything you need to know about allergies

Posted on April 8th, 2013

Allergies can have a negative effect on your child’s quality of life. We asked two allergy experts to share their advice.

About 30 to 40% of children will develop some form of allergy during their childhood years, whether it’s a skin or nose allergy, food allergy or asthma. According to Allergy Specialist, Dr Adrian Morris from the Allergy Clinic, genetics are one of the major factors that contribute to childhood allergies. “If both you and your partner have hypersensitivities, you can be 80% sure that you’ll have an allergy-prone child.” The environment in which a child is born and raised can also contribute to allergies. Children can develop allergies from coming into contact with allergens that they inhale or eat, from certain medicines or being stung by insects.

Is it a cold, a heat rash or an allergy?
Allergies can accurately be identified from the age of four months through a blood or skin test. “A skin test is very effective to test for allergens such as dust, wheat, soy, eggs, cats, dogs and nuts,” says Dr Morris. If your doctor has a skin allergy test kit, he’ll be able to test for allergies on your first visit. You can also ask your doctor to do a blood test. He’ll take a blood sample from your child and send it to a laboratory to test for all the various allergens.
An allergy can sometimes be mixed up with a cold. However, Dr Morris explains that a child won’t get a fever or joint pains if he has an allergy. Allergy symptoms mainly consist of itching, sneezing and wheezing.

How to spot an allergy:

Eczema
Signs and symptoms:

  • Itchy, scaly rash in the elbow creases, behind the knees and on your child’s face.

Triggers:

  • Eczema is sometimes made worse by food allergies.
  • Contact with allergens (such as pollen, dust mites, furry animals), irritants and sweating.

Hay fever
Signs and symptoms:

  • Sneezing.
  • Blocked nose.

Hay fever will mostly manifest in older children between the ages of 7 to 10 years old.

Triggers:

  • Pollen from trees, grasses, or weeds.

Asthma
Signs and symptoms:

  • Wheezing.
  • A noisy chest.
  • A cough.

These symptoms won’t be of the same as a cold and will persist over a period of time.

Triggers:

  • Cigarette smoke, viral infections, pollen, dust mites, furry animals, cold air, changing weather conditions, exercise and stress.

Food allergies
Signs and symptoms:

  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Hives (itchy mosquito-bite-like skin patches).
  • Eczema.
  • Difficulty breathing.

Triggers:

  • Any foods, but most commonly eggs, peanuts, milk, nuts, soy, fish, wheat, peas, and shellfish.

The difference between mild and severe allergy symptoms:

  • Mild allergy symptoms can be identified through itching, a mild rash and a runny nose.
  • If a child has severe allergy symptoms, his throat will close up, he won’t be able to breathe, he’ll be covered in a rash and his lips and eyes will be swollen.

Allergy shots
While there are no vaccines available for food allergies, but there are some that can help with grass pollen allergies, hay fever, house dust mite allergies and asthma. Because these types of allergies only manifest in older children between, five and 10 years old, they‘re most likely to benefit from these allergy shots. “Children usually start showing symptoms of food allergies or eczema when they’re a couple of months old. If your child is allergy-prone, he may then progress to developing asthma between the ages of three to five and then on to hay fever when he is between seven and10. This process is called the ‘Allergic March,’” explains Dr Morris.

Living And Loving Staff

About Living And Loving Staff

Our experienced editors work with trained journalists and qualified experts to compile accurate, insightful and helpful information about pregnancy, birth, early childhood development and parenting. Our content is reviewed regularly by our panel of advisors, which include medical doctors and healthcare professionals.