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Childhood allergies acting up?

Child Suffering from Allergies? The Allergy Detective Can Help

March 20, 2018

If you live in the Houston area and your child suffers from allergy symptoms, you’re not alone. Because of the city’s muggy climate and air pollution, a large portion of the population find themselves sneezing, sniffling, and wheezing during allergy season, and children are no exception.

"Other cities may have higher allergy burdens, but Houston consistently rates near the top of locations with high risk of allergy," Kelsey-Seybold Allergy and Immunology specialist Eric Sandberg, MD, notes. "High humidity contributes to dust mite concentrations, while warm weather produces long growing seasons for grass."

Dr. Sandberg is an expert at getting to the bottom of what’s causing a child’s allergies and how to give the child relief through a personalized treatment plan.

The major outdoor causes of allergies in the Houston area are pollens from grass, oak, and ragweed. The high humidity also increases the presence of mold allergens. Allergic reactions that occur in the nose, eyes, and bronchial tubes are usually caused by airborne allergens, such as pollens, dust mites, mold spores, and animal dander.

But a child's family history also plays a role in their susceptibility to allergies. While 15% of the population develops allergies, that risk doubles if one parent has allergies, and nearly doubles again to 50% to 60% if both do.

Understanding what triggers your child’s allergies can give you the tools to help them avoid the dreaded symptoms that can come with an attack.

Finding Relief for Your Child’s Allergies

"The first line of defense is allergen avoidance," Dr. Sandberg emphasizes. "Whenever possible and practical, simply avoid the allergen. We all know how beneficial it is for children to play outside, but some kids may have to limit time spent outdoors because of their allergies. Families with kids who have allergic reactions to animal dander may have to decide against having pets.”

When avoidance isn’t possible, the second line of defense is allergy medication. An allergy specialist like Dr. Sandberg can concentrate on providing symptomatic relief through over-the-counter or prescription medication. Some children may benefit from allergy shots or immunotherapy if their symptoms are particularly severe or disruptive to their lives.

"It’s important to treat nasal symptoms promptly and aggressively to prevent worsening of lung problems," Dr. Sandberg summarizes. "We treat hay fever and allergies aggressively when identified in a young person in an attempt to reduce asthma in teen years."

But the first step in determining which treatment plan to follow is to get your child tested to determine what exactly they’re allergic to.

"Many children with allergies that fail to improve with medications will require some type of testing to precisely determine specific allergens," says Dr. Sandberg. "After a thorough physical exam, we use skin testing, which is rapid and accurate, to identify the allergens. In some situations, blood testing is preferable."

When to See a Specialist

It’s a good idea to talk to your pediatrician first if you suspect your child has allergies. They may refer you to an allergy specialist if:

  • Your child is missing school because of repeated bouts of runny nose, congestion, or wheezing
  • Your child is having difficulty sleeping comfortably through the night
  • Your child has been prescribed medications, but the symptoms persist
  • There is a family history of allergies or asthma
  • You want to identify the allergic factors that are causing a problem
  • You want a second opinion or recommendations on how to control the symptoms
Dr. Adesina from Kelsey-Seybold Clinic

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