Watching your son or daughter struggle to breathe when allergy symptoms are fierce is awful and can make you feel helpless. But knowing as much as possible about allergies and what causes them can help you and your child be better prepared should problems arise.
Food Allergies—Unfortunately, these are on the increase. Peanuts are probably on toward the top of the list of foods that many children are unable to tolerate. A lot of preschools and elementary school have chosen to make it a peanut-free school to avoid the risk of having a child accidentally exposed to them.
Gluten is another product that more children have developed sensitivity to. And really it's hard to know whether we are just more aware of it, or whether it was always there and children and parents were just in the dark about the cause of the problem.
Seafood can cause big problems, and lactose intolerant kids can't have the normal dairy products. And many children are unable to even tolerate soy as a substitute.
Reading the label is one of the best ways to avoid food allergens. Informing friends, parents, baby-sitters, and teachers is a great way to avoid disaster.
Your child should also be made aware of the foods that will cause problems, and there should be a plan in place for everyone about what should happen in an emergency.
Contact Dermatitis—This happens when the skin is exposed to an allergen. Symptoms include itching, redness, swelling, rash, and sometimes pain. Sometimes the allergen is difficult to determine.
When my little girl moved from the crib to toddler bed, she began to have redness on her feet and arms, but not on her face. We tried washing her pajamas and the linen. Nothing seemed to have an effect.
Finally, I took the bedding off and used a jersey-style sheet. The redness disappeared. So what was it? We never really knew for sure, and sometimes it's going to be like that.
Some of the more obvious allergens include poison ivy, protein in cat's saliva, dander, or urine, metals in jewelry, latex gloves, chemicals used in clothing and shoes, various personal products, and some medications that are applied topically. These are generally easy to pinpoint and avoid.
Airborne Allergens—Airborne allergy triggers are found indoors and out. Indoor allergens generally include dust, dust mites, pet dander. Outside allergens include seasonal pollen, mold and mildew spores. And the hard part is that outdoor allergens almost always find their way indoors.
Using an air purifier to keep the number of irritants down is recommended as a crucial part of the management plan for this kind of allergy. Allergy shots to desensitize the body to a particular irritant can also be helpful.
These types of allergies are by no means specific only to children. But because of their smaller mass they have the potential to cause more of a threat. Knowledge is power, and being aware of how your child reacts can be crucial in avoiding serious attacks.
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