Understanding Allergies in Children

Published on January 16, 2024

Understanding Allergies in Children

For kids dealing with allergies, there’s a wide range of triggers — both inside and outside the home — that can cause uncomfortable symptoms. Understanding children’s allergies and how to alleviate them can go a long way to helping your child get back to playing, laughing, and enjoying themselves.

Allergies happen when a body detects an allergen and produces an abnormal immune response to something that is typically harmless to most people. Allergies don’t just occur in adults, but children too.

When a child with an allergy is exposed to that allergen, their immune system over-corrects and tries to fight off the invading allergen with an immune response, causing certain chemicals (like histamine) to be released into the bloodstream as a defence against this “invader”.1 It’s this release of chemicals which causes allergy symptoms in children.1

Allergy symptoms in kids

As soon as you notice your child is suffering allergic symptoms, see a paediatrician or allergist to get a diagnosis. A doctor will be able to run tests to see if your child has a sensitivity to one or more of the most common allergens. Look out for these common symptoms of allergies.2

•           Sneezing

•           Itchy nose and/or throat

•           Nasal congestion

•           Itchy, watery, and/or red eyes

You may see multiple symptoms or just one.2 In any case, the sooner you seek medical guidance, the sooner you can get your child on the path to relief.

Common Indoor Allergy Triggers for Children

Eliminating allergy triggers within the home can help to make things a little less sneezy. Allergens are practically everywhere. So, the best way to get rid of symptoms is to get rid of the triggers. Here are the most common places to find them.3

•           Damp and humid areas

•           Indoor plants

•           Pets

•           Pillows and bedding

Plush furniture

•           Plush toys

•           Unsealed mattresses

•           Wall-to-wall carpet

How to Help Alleviate Indoor Allergens for Kids

Obviously, adding a bunch of new cleaning chores may not be practical. But you can use this list as a place to start:

Control dust mites3

•           Use low-pile carpets, washable rugs, hardwood, linoleum, or tile

•           Put sealed, allergen-resistant covers on pillows and mattresses

•           Wash bedding, pillows, and stuffed toys in water that’s at least 130°F; dry them in a hot dryer

Minimize pet dander3

•           Before getting a pet, ask an allergist to determine if your kids are allergic

•           Keep pets out of the bedroom

•           Wash and change pet beds and toys often

Keep the air clean3

•           Increase the flow of outdoor air

•           Use air cleaners with certified allergy and asthma friendly filters

•           Vacuum frequently with certified allergy and asthma friendly filters

Common Outdoor Allergies Triggers for Children

Common triggers of outdoor allergies in kids1 can be pollen from trees, grass, and weeds. Many allergens produce similar symptoms and will benefit from the same efforts at relieving them.

How to Help Alleviate Outdoor Allergens for Kids

  • Have children wash their hands immediately upon returning inside2
  • Teach children to avoid rubbing their eyes, which can worsen symptoms
  • Schedule showers or baths as soon as possible after they come inside to wash off any potential remaining allergens on their skin or hair4
  • Make sure they only wear outdoor clothes once before washing them4
  • Dry clothes in the dryer, instead of hanging them outside among allergens4
  • Be aware of your child’s exposure to allergens at school

Treating Allergies in Children

Treatment for allergies in children will depend on the symptoms they have, their age, and how severe the allergy is. As well as avoiding the triggers for the allergy, mild indoor and outdoor allergies can also be treated with antihistamine medications.5

When looking for an over the counter treatment for your child’s allergies, experts recommend to avoid oral antihistamines for children that can cause drowsiness, instead opting for an antihistamine that’s been designed to be safe and non-drowsy in children.6

[1] Kids and Allergies (for Parents) – Nemours KidsHealth. (2022, January 1). Retrieved from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/allergy.html

[2] Jordan C. Smallwood, MD, Reviewer. Seasonal Allergies (Hay Fever), (2016, October) KidsHealth (kidshealth.org), Retrieved from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/seasonal-allergies.html [1] Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Editors. Control Allergens to Improve Indoor Air Quality, Reviewed by Medical Scientific Council, 2015. Retrieved from https://aafa.org/allergies/prevent-allergies/control-indoor-allergens/

[3] Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Editors. Control Allergens to Improve Indoor Air Quality, Reviewed by Medical Scientific Council, 2015. Retrieved from https://aafa.org/allergies/prevent-allergies/control-indoor-allergens/

[4] Andrew Moore, MD, Reviewed. Outdoor Allergens, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (aaaai.org), September 28, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.aaaai.org/Tools-for-the-Public/Conditions-Library/Allergies/Outdoor-allergens-TTR

[5] Stanford Medicine Children’s Health. Treatment for a Child’s Allergy to Dust or Pollen. https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=treatment-for-a-childs-allergy-90-P01668

[6] How to Treat Your Child’s Seasonal Allergies, According to Our Pediatric Allergists. (2023, March 23). Retrieved from https://nyulangone.org/news/how-treat-your-childs-seasonal-allergies-according-our-pediatric-allergists

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