From spending time in classrooms and friends’ houses to sports fields and playgrounds, childhood is filled with a variety of experiences. If your child is suffering from a stuffy nose or other allergy symptoms, it can be difficult for them to fully engage in activities. That’s where our team at Charleston ENT & Allergy comes in. We can determine if allergies are causing your child’s symptoms and help them live life to the fullest.
Does My Child Have Allergies?
Symptoms of pediatric allergies include:
- Sneezing, coughing, wheezing, itchy eyes or a runny nose
- Rashes or hives
- Upset stomach
What Causes Pediatric Allergies?
During an allergic reaction, your child’s immune system responds to a perceived threat by flooding the bloodstream with histamines. These chemicals attack the offending substance but lead to inflammation and swelling of the airways in the process.
Typical triggers include:
- Pollen from trees or plants
- Pet hair
- Insect bites or stings
- Dust miles
- Milk and dairy products
- Irritants like cigarette smoke or perfume
What Are Common Allergic Conditions in Children?
- Allergic rhinitis: This results in a runny nose, congestion, sneezing and postnasal drip.
- Nasal congestion: Allergies are the most common cause of pediatric nasal congestion.
- Ear infections: Allergies can cause fluid accumulation or inflammation of the ear, which can result in ear infections and earaches.
- Food allergies: Symptoms typically develop within minutes of eating the food. Food allergies can result in itching or tingling in the mouth; hives; swelling of the face, mouth or throat; difficulty breathing; feeling lightheaded or dizzy; nausea; vomiting; abdominal pain; sneezing; or itchy eyes. Some patients might develop anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can potentially be life-threatening.
How Are Allergies Diagnosed in Children?
During the initial appointment, our pediatric ENT specialist will get to know you and your child. They’ll ask about your child’s symptoms, how long they’ve been occurring and their severity. In addition to performing a general physical exam, other potential procedures include:
- Skin test: The most common allergy test, this procedure determines whether there are antibodies to certain allergens in the body. An area is scratched with a diluted allergen, and if your child is allergic to the allergen, a small bump will appear.
- Blood test: This procedure measures the presence of allergens in the blood and is often used when skin tests cannot be performed. A positive test does not always mean that your child has an allergy, so results should be interpreted by a medical professional.
- Challenge test: Under the supervision of an allergist, a small amount of the allergen is ingested or inhaled. This procedure determines the severity of the body’s allergic response.
How Are Pediatric Allergies Treated?
Allergies are typically treated with medication, shots (immunotherapy) and by avoiding triggers.
Your child’s doctor will discuss how to avoid allergens that cause problems. Common options include staying indoors on windy days and when the pollen count is high, managing dust in your home, utilizing a dehumidifier and using air conditioning rather than opening windows when possible. Additionally, after they play outside during days with high pollen counts, have your child take a shower and change clothes.
There are several options for medication to relieve symptoms from allergies, including antihistamines, decongestants, nasal corticosteroid sprays, eye drops and prescription drugs.
Children with severe cases that do not respond to other treatments may be candidates for immunotherapy, which is typically delivered through weekly injections, also known as allergy shots. This allows the body to eventually build up a tolerance to the allergen and minimize its effects.
Will Pediatric Sublingual Immunotherapy Work for My Child?
Along with allergy shots, sublingual immunotherapy, also known as SLIT, is another option for building immunity to allergens. Rather thanbeing in the form of a shot, the medicine is taken orally. This is often an ideal option for children whose allergies are not at an advanced stage and can help prevent asthma in some patients.
Is It Allergies or Sinusitis?
There are often overlapping symptoms between allergies and sinusitis, whereas sinusitis is the result of cold viruses and is often worsened by allergies. Our ENT will determine if your child’s symptoms are being caused by sinusitis or allergies, which is the first step to providing the most appropriate treatment for their needs.
We’re Here To Help
As a parent, you want the best for your children, and it can be stressful to realize that they may have allergies. Whether they’re experiencing rhinitis or food allergies, at Charleston ENT & Allergy, we can provide treatment that will alleviate symptoms and get them to fully engage with every memorable childhood activity. Call us to get started.