Allergies are very common and the number of cases is also increasing in the United States. There is a wide variety of causes of allergy and its symptoms vary from mild to potentially life-threatening. Today, allergy is one of the main factors associated with the persistence and cause of asthma. At ENT for Children, we have the expertise to help you develop effective treatment and prevention plans for your child’s allergy.
What Is An Allergy?
An allergy is recognized as a disorder caused by one’s body having an abnormal reaction to an allergen. Allergens are usually harmless substances. Its name literally means a substance that is capable of producing allergies. In most cases, an allergen is tolerated without problems by non-allergic individuals. For example, John can tolerate being in contact with dogs. However, Tom is allergic to dogs and start to sneeze, as well as get a runny or itchy nose.
Allergic reactions happen due to a mistake of the immune system. Your system is in charge of overseeing the proper functioning of the body. It protects the individual against an invasion of harmful external agents such as viruses and bacteria that can cause an infection. However, it must also at the same time allow the entry of beneficial substances such as food nutrients. During the development of an allergy, there may be generalized symptoms or a local inflammatory reaction against the allergen, which should actually be tolerated.
Common Types Of Allergies
There are two major types of allergies:
- Delayed hypersensitivity: Usually occurs after several hours, usually 24 to 48 hours. This mechanism is related to disorders like allergic contact dermatitis.
- Immediate hypersensitivity: This is what you usually call allergy. It can occur quickly, less than 30 minutes or an hour. This mechanism is usually related to disorders like food allergy or rhinitis.
What Are The Symptoms Of An Allergy?
An allergy is an exaggerated immune response to external triggers known as allergens. Some of the common forms of allergy include:
- Cough with postnasal drip
- Excessive need for throat clearing
- Itchy or sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Watery and itchy eyes
- Nasal congestion
How Is The Diagnosis Established?
Skin test is the most common way to test for allergies. The method provides fast and accurate results. During a scratch test, a tiny drop of allergen will be placed on the patient’s skin (usually on the back or inside of the arm). Medicine, food, fur, pet skin, pollen, and mold are some of the allergens that are used for such tests. If the patient has sensitive skin or has taken medication that could affect test results, a blood test will be facilitated instead. Patients that may be allergic to a certain food will undergo an elimination diet for about two weeks or a month.
How Is An Allergy Treated?
Allergen minimization or avoidance relies on identifying the cause of allergy and taking the necessary steps to reduce exposure to that allergen. For example, a person who is allergic to dust mites may therefore need to reduce dust mites in the house. However, those methods are only suitable for patients whose allergic reactions are mild to moderate. If your child’s condition is serious, he or she may need immediate lifesaving medication. If you know that your child has a very severe allergy, do not hesitate to consult ENT for Children to help you develop an anaphylaxis management plan.