Millions of American children have allergies, which may be caused by any number of plants, animals, foods and other environmental factors. Signs of an allergic reaction vary widely, as well, not to mention their range in severity, so knowing how to spot and respond to an allergic reaction is crucial knowledge for any parent.
Because allergens have the potential to set off life-threatening responses in the body, it's important to know when your child needs emergency medical attention. Anaphylaxis is the most serious allergic reaction and requires a call to 911. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include nausea, trouble breathing, vomiting, swelling, and diarrhea, and the reaction could cause the sufferer to pass out or experience cardiac arrest.
Often, allergic reactions present as irritations, rather than sudden, life-threatening symptoms.Though less severe, sensations like watery eyes, should not be ignored.
How Can I Treat a Mild Allergic Reaction?
When your child has an allergic reaction that does not need emergency medical attention, there are several things you can do. You can get overthe-counter treatments, such as antihistamines that can be administered orally or topical ointments to relieve itching, swelling and hives. Keep a diary of your child's reactions: How does he or she react to eating certain foods? What was he or she doing before symptoms appear? Does anyone in your family have allergies? Use these notes to help a professional diagnose your child's symptoms — don't attempt to identify an allergy on your own.
Because of allergies' serious consequences, you should schedule an appointment with your pediatrician or an allergist as soon as you notice signs of an allergic reaction. The doctor will administer tests, which can provide some diagnostic guidance, but your observations are crucial to an accurate assessment of your child's potential allergy. When the cause has been identified, be sure to alert anyone who cares for the child, including school or daycare facilities, and start educating your child about what he or she can or cannot have.
Allergies can pop up at any time, even in adulthood, but they can also go away, so have your child tested every few years. Perhaps most important, ask your doctor about products that contain your child's allergen — it's not always as obvious as you'd think it would be.