Childhood allergies can be swift and frightening. Imagine a child happily snacking on peanuts one minute, then gasping for breath the next. It’s enough to make any parent afraid.
But allergies have been a part of childhood for hundreds of years. Luckily, most of them go away by the time children reach puberty. In the meantime, you can keep childhood allergies from endangering your child with just a few simple steps.
First, know which allergies are the most common. If your child has allergies, chances are good that their allergens are airborne (pet hair and dust); contact skin irritants (such as wool); or food (wheat, soy, or apples). Each type of allergy can manifest in a number of different ways. Of childhood food allergies, milk is the most common and peanuts are the most dangerous.
Next, learn about childhood allergy symptoms and how to recognize them. Airborne allergens cause sneezing, coughing, itchy or watery eyes, and a runny nose. Allergens can also cause hives, rashes, or asthma-like breathing problems. Food allergies often cause gas, bloating, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. When allergies are severe, sufferers can have an anaphylactic reaction. Anaphylaxis causes swelling of the air passages. Without medical attention, victims can stop breathing and die.
Milk allergies usually show up during the child’s infancy. This type of food allergy is very common, but not as severe as peanut allergies. Children who are allergic to milk might break out in hives or suffer from colic. Lactose-free formulas are one way to avoid this allergy.
Peanut allergies are very serious; always watch your child carefully when feeding them peanut products for the first time. Children who are sensitive to peanuts can suffer from swelling of the mouth and tongue, hives, and difficulty breathing. They also risk life-threatening anaphylaxis. If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, seek emergency medical help immediately.
The next thing you can do to protect your child from allergies is to talk to their pediatrician about testing and treatment. Allergy tests will reveal the allergens that your child is most susceptible to. Once these substances have been identified, it’s time to decide on a course of treatment.
Mild allergies can be managed simply by avoiding or limiting contact with the allergen. The child’s pediatrician may also recommend nasal sprays or antihistamines to control airborne allergies. Food allergies are isolated by removing and reintroducing certain foods. By keeping track of which foods have been consumed on a given day, parents can figure out which foods their children are allergic to.
Some allergies are more serious. These might require allergy shots or breathing treatments. These types of treatments involve low doses of corticosteroids. Steroids reduce inflammation, a common response to allergens.
Natural allergy treatments are increasing in popularity. Children with breathing problems and coughs due to allergies can benefit from the herbal extract, butterbur. Butterbur promotes healing and respiratory health. Glucosamine, a popular anti-inflammatory, can help with bronchitis symptoms. Antioxidant fruit and vegetable pigments known as flavonoids also support the lungs. Because some asthma sufferers have exhibited a manganese deficiency, it’s thought that magnesium supplements can help control breathing problems.
There are also natural substances that promote healing by helping the body replenish its cells more efficiently. Folic acid is one such supplement. A B-vitamin, folic acid stimulates new cell growth. M.S.M is another natural compound that has been studied as a treatment for seasonal allergies. It works by binding amino acids together and promoting strong connective tissues. This carries vital water and nutrients to cells, and helps toxins pass out of them easily. M.S.M has been found safe for short-term use.
Finally, the enzyme lactase can be taken by children with lactose intolerance. Lactase helps children digest lactose, or milk sugar. Those who suffer from milk allergies rather than a simple intolerance will need to find a suitable alternative such as soy milk. Seek a doctor’s advice before making any dietary changes or giving supplements to your child.