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When To Suspect An Allergy 

With spring round the corner, the allergy season is almost here too. Some common clues, cures and preventive measures to manage allergies & asthma.

Some allergies are easy to identify by the pattern of symptoms that invariably follows exposure to a particular substance. But others are more subtle, and may masquerade as other conditions. Here are some common clues that could lead you to suspect your child may have an allergy. 

*Repeated or chronic cold-like symptoms - that last more than a week or two, or develop at about the same time every year. These could include a runny nose, nasal stuffiness, sneezing and throat clearing. 
*Nose rubbing, sniffling, snorting, sneezing and itchy, runny eyes. 
*Itching or tingling sensations in the mouth and throat. Itchiness is not usually a complaint with a cold, but it is the hallmark of an allergy problem. 
*Coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and other respiratory symptoms. 
*Patches of bumps or itchy, red skin that "weeps" or oozes clear fluid, and forms a crust. 
*Development of hives, intensely itchy skin eruptions that usually last for a few hours and move from one part of the body to another. 

How To Manage Hay Fever

*Many children are allergic to pollens and molds, both of which are found everywhere outdoors and cannot be completely avoided. 
*It's helpful to use air conditioners, where possible, to reduce exposure to pollen in both your home and your car. 
*Dust mites congregate where food for them is plentiful. They are especially numerous in upholstered furniture, bedding and rugs. Padded furnishings such as mattresses, box springs, pillows and cushions should be encased in allergen-proof, zip-up covers, which are available through catalogs and specialized retailers. Wash linens weekly, and other bedding such as blankets, every 2 to 3 weeks in hot water, then put them through the hottest cycle of a clothes dryer. Pillows should be replaced every 2 to 3 years. 

Common Allergens On The Home Front 

Dust (contains dust mites and finely ground particles from other allergens such
as pollen, mold and animal dander). 
Pollen (trees, grasses, weeds) 
Fungi (including molds too small to be seen with the naked eye) 
Furry animals (cats, dogs, guinea pigs, gerbils, rabbits, and other pets) 
Latex (household articles such as rubber gloves and toy balloons) 
Foods such as cow's milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat and fish 

Medications To Suppress Symptoms 

Your child's allergy treatment should start with your pediatrician, who may refer you to a pediatric allergy specialist for additional evaluations and treatments.
Antihistamines - Help with itchy watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing, as well as itchy skin and hives. 
Decongestants - Help with stuffy nose. 
Corticosteroids - Highly effective for allergy treatment and are widely used to stop symptoms. 
Allergy Immunotherapy - Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, may be recommended to reduce your child's sensitivity to airborne allergens. Not every allergy problem can or needs to be treated with allergy shots, but treatment of respiratory allergies to pollen, dust mites, and outdoor molds is often successful. 

Common Triggers Of Asthma: 

Dust Mites
Animals (especially cats and dogs)

Tobacco Smoke

Viral respiratory infections, including colds
Sinus Infections

Outdoor Air Pollution

Indoor Air Pollution
Aerosol sprays
Cooking Fumes
Smoke (wood fires, wood-burning stoves) 

Managing Eczema:
*Food allergies play also play a role in about 25 percent of cases of eczema in young children. 
*Antihistamine medication may be prescribed to relieve the itching, and help break the itch-scratch cycle. 
*Long-sleeved sleepwear may also help prevent nighttime scratching. 
* As long as steroid creams are used sparingly, at the lowest strength that does the job, steroid creams are very safe and effective. 
*Soaps containing perfumes and deodorants may be too harsh for children's sensitive skin. 
*Use laundry products that are free of dyes and perfumes and double-rinse clothes, towels and bedding. 
*Warm (never hot) showers may be preferable to baths. Gently pat your child dry after the shower or bath to avoid irritating the skin with rubbing. 
*Launder new clothes thoroughly before your child wears them. 

2004 - American Academy of Pediatrics 
Abstracted from the American Academy of Pediatrics Guide to Your Child's Allergies and Asthma. Available from:

*Disclaimer: The contents are meant for informative, educational purposes only. Formal recommendations can only be made by physicians involved in your care. Please check with your physician before acting on any part of this article.