Allergy & Asthma: An Overview
Air is filled with dust, pollen, and several other pollutants. While the majority of adults and children may be unaffected, these contaminants can make life miserable for children with asthma and allergies. Allergies and asthma are by far the most common chronic diseases among children in the United States. Continue reading to learn more about these conditions and how you can help your child live a healthier and more active life.
What Are Allergies?
Allergies are reactions caused by an overactive immune system. Allergic reactions can happen anywhere in your body, such eczema (skin) or asthma (lungs). Your immune system is responsible for protecting your body against diseases by actively searching out and destroying foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses. When your child has an allergic reaction, their immune system has overreacted and has sprung into action against a typically harmless substance, such as animal dander or pollen. The substance that causes the allergic reaction is called an allergen.
Common Signs of Allergy
Allergies can cause a wide array of conditions. While some are relatively easy to spot, others are more subtle and may be masked as something else. Some of the most common clues your child may have an allergy are:
- Formation of hives or welts
- Patches of itchy or bumpy red skin that will not subside (Eczema)
- Itchy, runny eyes
- Nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting
- Intestinal discomfort and cramps
- Drippy nose, sneezing, snorting, sniffling, and nose rubbing
- Scratchy or itchy sensation in the throat and mouth
- Hacking dry cough or a cough that produces clear mucus
- Wheezing or feeling of chest tightness
- Shortness of breath and rapid breathing
However, there are several other potential symptoms. If you believe your child has an allergy to a particular substance, it’s best to speak to an experienced pediatrician at Stepping Stone.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic condition originating in the lungs that affects more than 6.25 million children under the age of 18. Asthma can appear at any age, but the majority of children develop symptoms by the time they are four or five years of age. When asthma is properly managed with environmental measures and medications, most flair ups or asthma attacks can be prevented.
What Happens During an Asthma Attack
During an asthma attack, your child may feel chest tightness and began coughing as they breath. The child may begin to wheeze, breath fast, and become fearful. If the child doesn’t know to manage their symptoms and live with an asthma attack, it can be frightening.
In many cases, your child may exhibit early warning signs, such as eczema in their early months. They may also exhibit problems with their lower respiratory system before their first birthday. The key to managing asthma is to recognize the warning signs. This chronic condition can masquerade as a chronic cough, recurrent bronchitis, lower respiratory infections, or recurrent pneumonia for several years before it is properly diagnosed. It’s important to speak to your pediatrician if you notice your child:
- Is short of breath often;
- Coughs regularly after exertion or at night;
- Complains of a tight feeling in their chest
How Are Asthma and Allergies Related?
Although allergies can trigger an asthma attack, they are two very different things. Allergies are reactions in the immune system that may affect several organs, but asthma is a chronic condition originating in the lungs. In addition to a long list of allergens, several circumstances and substances can trigger an asthma attack:
- Viral infections
- Cold air
- Tobacco smoke
- Noxious fumes
- Air pollution
Approximately 80% of children with asthma also have allergies. While allergies may trigger asthma attacks, many of the most severe asthmatic attacks are caused by the cold virus.
Schedule an Appointment for Asthma and Allergy Management at Stepping Stone Pediatrics
For asthma and allergy symptoms, the sooner the condition is identified, the sooner treatment can provide relief so it’s important for a diagnosis to be made as early as possible. Schedule an appointment with Stepping Stone Pediatrics for comprehensive asthma and allergy management solutions.