The 5 Most Common Allergies in Children
Allergic reactions are one of the main chronic diseases that are detected at an early age. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, 50 million cases are reported in the United States alone each year, with a significant prevalence in children. Learning to distinguish the most common allergies in children is important to speed up the diagnosis.
Unfortunately, not all pediatric patients are monitored by an allergist. This is very important, as in the face of a serious reaction the life of the minor may be in danger. Today, we’ll show you the most common types of childhood allergies and how you can do to distinguish them from the others.
1. Food allergies
According to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics, about 7.6% of children suffer from food allergies. A good portion of them aren’t diagnosed by a specialist or have received a misdiagnosis that revolves around a gastrointestinal condition. We can categorize two types of food reactions:
- First, reactions that occur in sensitive infants through their mother’s milk.
- Second, reactions that develop after 6 months of birth, when they begin to try solid foods.
As children include foods in their diet, the chances of allergic reactions increase. There are food groups that are people can be particularly sensitive to. Based on Johns Hopkins Medicine, 90% of all cases are due to the following:
- Tree nuts
Symptoms develop minutes to hours after ingestion and, in addition to gastrointestinal manifestations, the patient will develop eczema, hives, swelling, itching, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Researchers point out that 33% of anaphylactic reactions in children occur due to food allergies.
2. Allergic rhinitis
Also known as hay fever or seasonal rhinitis, it’s a type of allergic reaction that’s triggered by pollen from trees or plants. Some studies indicate that it’s one of the most frequent allergies in children, with a prevalence that ranges between 10% and 40% according to the geographic location.
It’s more common during the spring and summer seasons, as these are the times when plants prefer to release pollen into the air. Some variants, such as ragweed allergy, are more common in early fall. But pollen isn’t the only culprit of infantile rhinitis, Children’s National points out other triggers such as:
- Dust mites
- Animal dander
- Cockroach residue
These cases are considered to be perennial rhinitis, as they appear throughout the 12 months of the year. Hay fever in children causes the classic symptoms of an allergic reaction: Runny and stuffy nose, watery eyes, and sneezing.
3. Atopic dermatitis
Some of the most common allergies in children affect the skin. There are many variants of this type, but atopic dermatitis is by far the most common. Evidence indicates that it affects between 10% and 20% of children in developed countries, with a chronic manifestation. It’s caused by a combination of genes and environmental factors.
The National Eczema Association indicates that the reaction occurs mainly in the face, elbows, and knees. It can also appear on the scalp, ears, and torso, but never (or almost never) in the diaper area. Among its symptoms, we highlight the following:
- Rashes accompanied by redness
- Dry skin with a flaky appearance and texture
- Open sores with scabs
- Itching and slight swelling
If infants or children mistreat the rashes, they may fill with pus and the scabs can take on a yellowish hue. Atopic dermatitis often accompanies the episodes we mentioned above. In other words, food allergies or hay fever. It can also appear in isolation.
4. Allergic asthma
Childhood asthma has many explanations. Some cases develop in the presence of a cold (that is, from infectious triggers), others from allergens such as pollen, mites, mold, and certain foods. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, among its main symptoms, we can highlight the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
As with the other common allergies in children on this list, this condition may be alleviated by puberty. Asthma Canada notes that two-thirds of children go into remission during this stage, which means that the frequency and intensity of symptoms will be much lower. In some cases, years or decades may pass between reactions.
5. Drug allergy
Studies indicate that allergic reactions to drug ingestion occur in 2.9% to 16.8% of pediatric patients. They usually appear between 1 and 72 hours after contact with the drug with a mild manifestation. CS Mott Children’s Hospital indicates the following warning signs of this type of reaction:
- Red spots on different parts of the skin
- Wheezing and shortness of breath
- Cough accompanied by a runny nose
- Blisters on the skin
Any medicine can cause adverse reactions in children. The most common are penicillin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as aspirin ), anticonvulsants, hyperthyroid drugs, and some vaccines.
In very rare cases, patients will develop an anaphylactic reaction, which requires an injection of epinephrine for treatment. This is why all drug therapy should be mediated by a qualified specialist.
Most reactions are treated with antihistamines, corticosteroids, and mast cell stabilizers. Treatment is always personalized, and the child’s responses are monitored for days after starting therapy. Never start a treatment without the endorsement of a specialist.
Immunotherapy for common allergies in children
Studies and research certify the viability of immunotherapy as a treatment for frequent allergic reactions in children. When they can’t be controlled through standard therapies, they’re very frequent, and specific biomarkers have been found in the patient, then the specialist can suggest their application.
Contrary to pharmacological alternatives, immunotherapy directly attacks the causes of allergies. It consists of gradually exposing allergens to the patient’s body so that it becomes desensitized to their presence. Its results can be maintained in the long term, and there’s even the possibility of total or complete remission.
To do this, you must be aware of the manifestations and turn to a pediatrician or allergist when you identify the symptoms of a reaction. Don’t put off your visit for too long, as there are dozens of options to prevent triggers from wreaking havoc on younger patients.