Allergies are common, especially during the springtime. Spring allergies (commonly referred to as hay fever) are usually caused by sensitivity to pollens from flowers, trees and grass – but allergies can also occur year round and have many different causes.
For children, allergies are particularly common during their first 3 years of life. The most common foods that a child can be allergic to include dairy, eggs, soy, wheat/gluten, fish and peanuts – even trace amounts of these common allergens can be enough to cause a severe and sometimes deadly reaction. An allergic reaction in a child can include everything from a rash, hives/itchy skin, itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing, runny nose, or anaphylactic shock. Children with allergies can also develop recurrent ear infections. As a family physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary will refer children to see an allergist if it is suspected they have allergies. Prior to seeing an allergist, it is important to keep a diary of any known allergies and the types of reaction your child has. To determine which allergies your child has, an allergies will perform what is known as a skin prick test.
It is also important to note that it’s not just food and pollens that can cause allergies. Things such as dust, mold, chemicals, perfumes and other airborne irritants (and even tattoo ink!) can all cause allergic reactions and be just as severe. Allergies can also worsen over time.
While allergic reactions can’t always be prevented, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends avoiding any known allergens/triggers to reduce your risk. When it comes to food allergies, cross contamination is a huge problem. For example, when you go out to eat at a restaurant, the food you order may not contain any nuts – however, this does not mean you’re at any less of a risk of developing an allergic reaction, as the food you eat can still be produced on equipment than may have handled nuts or other allergens. This is why it’s always important to check with your server prior to ordering or call the restaurant ahead of time to make sure it’s safe to eat there. Restaurants take allergies very seriously and are often able to accommodate those with severe allergies.
Unfortunately sometimes taking these precautions just isn’t enough. For those with both seasonal and year-round allergies, you may need to take over-the-counter antihistamines (such as Benadryl or Reactine) on a regular basis depending on how severe your allergies are. As some antihistamines can make you drowsy, it is important not to drive or operate heavy machinery after taking them. Nasal sprays, such as Nasonex and Omnaris, can also be prescribed to help combat allergies and relieve sinus-related symptoms.