Addressing your child’s environmental allergies? Allergies aren’t always easy to identify. Know if your child is prone to allergies to begin with– it’s a good start. Naturopath and Osteopath Susannah with special interests in functional nutrition answers readers of Small Magazine ‘s question:
My husband suffers from environmental allergies so we’re worried about our child developing them, too. What should we look out for?
Susannah Makram, registered Naturopath and Osteopath answer RE: Your child’s environmental allergies
A child who sneezes or coughs a lot, who frequently develops a skin rash, hives (urticarial) or eczema (atopic dermatitis), asthma or difficulty breathing may have environmental allergies. Hives often itch or sting and can spread. Skin is red and irritated with eczema and occasionally results in small, fluid-filled bumps that may become moist and ooze, typically across the child’s extremities.
Any child may develop such allergies, and they are more common in children from families with a history of such reactions – notably, allergic reactions share a genetic link, while specific allergies do not. Studies also show a gender-specific genetic link in inherited allergies.
Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is the most common childhood ailment caused by allergies. Symptoms include a runny and itchy nose, sneezing, postnasal drip and nasal congestion. If you suspect your toddler has allergies, look out for itchy, watery, red eyes and chronic or recurrent ear problems.
Allergies and asthma often occur together. The same substances that trigger hay fever symptoms may also cause asthma signs and symptoms, such as shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness. This is called allergic asthma or allergy-induced asthma. Certain substances, such as pollen, dust mites and pet dander, are common triggers.
Most Common allergens
Allergies are the most common cause of chronic nasal congestion (a stuffy nose) in children. Your child’s nose may be congested to the point that he or she is breathing through their mouth, especially whilst asleep, which can lead to tiredness or irritability the next day. If nasal congestion and mouth-breathing are left untreated, they can affect the growth of teeth and the bones of the face.
Allergies lead to inflammation in the ear and may cause fluid accumulation that can promote ear infections and decreased hearing. As a baby whose hearing is impaired for any reason while learning to talk, your toddler may develop poor speech.
The most to least common allergens: pollen, grass, dust mites, moulds and weeds, so do observe your toddler around these.
Ninety per cent of food-allergic reactions are to peanuts, eggs, milk, (shell)fish, wheat, soy, tree nuts.
All allergies range in severity from minor irritation to anaphylaxis —a potentially life-threatening emergency. Anaphylaxis causes confusion, rapid heart beat/palpitations, swelling of lips, tongue, throat, bluish skin, nausea, dizziness, fainting. If you suspect that your child is suffering from allergies, make an appointment with your GP or a paediatric allergy specialist to assess the situation.